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“When cleanliness is developed, it reveals what needs to be constantly maintained, and what is eternally clean. What decays is the external. What does not is deep within us.” 
~~ Yoga Sutra II.40 ; Translation by T.K.V. Desikachar

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(Folly Beach at dusk, one of my favorite times of day to experience the ocean)

Saucha is one of the five niyamas, or observances, from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Literally translated as “cleanliness” or “purity”, saucha goes much deeper than its literal translation. Saucha is also about cleanliness and purity of thought and mind, in addition to the body. It has the greater yogic goal of mental and physical freedom and bliss. Sounds pretty great to me! Who doesn’t want freedom and bliss?

Each day, we can practice saucha in practical ways:

  • Showering (especially in these sticky summer months) not only cleans our bodies of dirt, but it energetically uplifts and refreshes you.
  • Choosing foods that are clean and easy to digest is not only healthy for your body, but these kinds of foods also help keep the mind clear. I know that for me, personally, when I eat processed foods, I feel sluggish and experience brain fog. And usually, my stomach doesn’t like me very much. But when I choose fresh, whole foods (like good quality lean meats and vegetables), I feel energized and ready to tackle most anything.
  • Setting aside time to focus on our bodies and our breath provides a sense of purity. You can do this in a yoga class, meditating, or any other type of activity where your sole focus is on paying attention to what your body and breath are doing.
  • Creating a clean, de-cluttered environment. For me this means a clean desk at work, a clean house (particularly my bathroom, bedroom and kitchen) and a clean car (I spend a lot of time in my car). This one has been very challenging for me lately, as I have been super busy with so many things. And believe me, I’ve noticed the increase in stress levels due to the clutter I’ve got going on. Bottom line, be mindful of your environment and how it affects your ability to cultivate saucha.

These are just a few things you can do. When I don’t do the things I mention above, I feel like I’m filling my body and mind with dirt…it’s like I’m saying to the Universe, “Gimme the dirt…bring it on!” But every moment can be lived with greater purity and energetic alignment as we become more aware of ourselves and our habits.  Taking a few deep cleansing breaths in the morning before we get out of bed, periodically throughout our day, or right before going to bed each night, can help in becoming more attuned to and protective of our energies.

Choosing to spend time with people whose presence makes us feel re-charged rather than drained is another. I had the good fortune to spend a week with my husband, children, and my husband’s family this past week at the beach. I must admit I was worried about spending an entire week with so many people in one house. But it ended up being just what I needed. The house was gorgeous, everyone had plenty of space to find time to themselves when needed, the weather was great, and everyone did their part to help out with daily chores. And because we had a whole house, we cooked the majority of our meals there, and they were pretty darn healthy! The smell of the ocean and the sound of the waves was very cleansing for me, so I definitely came home feeling clean, inside and out.

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(Folly Beach family beach shot) 

As we move through this very challenging season of summer (here in the southeastern United States, it is HOT!), sometimes tempers rise along with the temperatures and humidity. Make sure you take a few moments each day to  consciously create some clean and clear space for yourself…clear away all that “dirt”…your body, and your mind, will thank you for it!

Namaste,

Melanie

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“Don’t ever criticize yourself. Don’t go around all day long thinking, ‘I’m unattractive, I’m slow, I’m not as smart as my brother.’ God wasn’t having a bad day when he made you… If you don’t love yourself in the right way, you can’t love your neighbour. You can’t be as good as you are supposed to be.” ~~ Joel Osteen

LoveYourself(Picture above Courtesy of Date Safe Project)

Before I get into the meat of this particular blog post, I want to take a moment to thank all of you out there. You probably don’t realize it, but you all provide me with SO MUCH inspiration…all the time! Many of you have taken the time to respond to my posts and also to tell me what you’d like to see more of. And it seems like most of you want to see more things that will inspire you to be a better person. Perfect! I want the same for ME, so it looks like we’re on the same page. WINNING!

The cool thing is that, as I work to find things to inspire all of you, I end up finding inspiration for myself. And your comments inspire me even more, which inspires YOU even more, and….well, I think you get the picture. It feels like we’re starting an Inspiration Revolution, wouldn’t you say? Woot woot!

So this week, for kicks and giggles, I wanted to see what would happen if I posted a Daily Challenge on my Facebook page. I’ve only posted three so far, but already I’ve gotten some decent response. If you’re not one of my Facebook friends, here are the three I posted this week:

  1. Say something nice to YOURSELF today.
  2. Say or do something nice for someone else. Pay it forward.
  3. Get outside! Spend at least 5 minutes outside today, sans distractions (that means put your phone away!) and simply notice the sights, smells and sounds that you encounter. This is good for the soul!

It’s interesting…the first one got 18 “Likes” and a few responses. The second one got only 5 “Likes”, but also got a fair number of responses. The last one…well, I only posted it this morning and I am writing this post during my lunch break…but it’s surpassed the first one already.

It got me to thinking…is #2 really that difficult, or is it just coincidence that it got the least number of “Likes”? Is it really that hard to say or do something nice for someone else? Maybe. In my opinion, we first have to like and be nice to ourselves before we can authentically do the same for others. If you’re not right with yourself, you’ll come across as “fake” when trying to do something for other people. And don’t you agree that it’s hard to be nice to others when you’re down on yourself? If talking positively to yourself is new for you, start by finding something good to say to yourself when you’re on your yoga mat…it can be as simple as saying, “Wow, my hamstrings are feeling more flexible today!”

It all ties back to the whole positive energy thing I’ve been writing about for the past two weeks. The more positive we can be, the more we’ll exude that vibe to those we come into contact with. And once we’re there, it’s easy to do items #1 and #2 each and every day, not just when someone (i.e., ME) challenges you to do so. It shouldn’t be a challenge to be nice to yourself and to others…it should come NATURALLY. But so often, it just doesn’t. For a variety of reasons. We need to stop that, and I mean NOW!

So my plea to you this week is to do all three of the things I listed above. If you’re having trouble with #1 and #2, then doing #3 might be a good place start. At this time of year, how can you help but come away from a walk outside with anything but gratitude? OK, OK….I know it’s really hot in some locations right now, but surely you can find a time of day where you can retreat within nature and get away from all the stress and distractions for at least 5 minutes. For me, first thing in the morning, as the sun is coming up, works great. Or right as the sun is going down. I resonate with sunrises and sunsets, so maybe that’s why I like being outdoors at those times, no matter what time of year it is.

Let me know how these three things go. And if you want to get in on my daily challenges, send me a Friend Request on Facebook and get in on the action. Until next week!

Namaste,

Melanie

“Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.” ~~ Barbara Marciniak

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(Photo courtesy of Awake Peace)

I just want to start this post off by saying, “WOW!” Just. WOW!

Last week’s post was all about how being more positive in everything we do brings about a loveliness…we can’t possibly be UGLY if we think good and positive thoughts. The topic resonated with me, which is why I chose to write about it…but what amazed me was how many of YOU resonated with it as well. WOW!

So many comments came in to me about that post, it humbled me. I always worry when I put myself out there a little bit and say what’s REALLY on my mind, but it was authentically ME so I figured what the heck…go for it! I am SO GLAD I did.

Throughout this past week, I read the post several times (most specifically when I found myself starting to do that whole negative self talk thing, you know?), and every time I read it, it sunk in a little bit more. I think that maybe, just MAYBE, the gorgeous sunbeams inside of me are starting to shine through. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you saw that yesterday, I had four separate people take time out of their busy days to say something to me that totally lifted me up. I’d like to think they took the time out for me because my earnest attempts at being more positive are starting to pay off…surely they wouldn’t have taken time for me if I was radiating a “Miss Negative” vibe, right?

At the end of the class I taught tonight, I shared the quote above by Barbara Marciniak, and it seemed to hit home with others, in the same way it hit home with me. Pretty darn cool, in my opinion! I love it when, by sharing a piece of my soul with others, it sparks a new connection.

I’m telling you, bring some positivity into your life and things will soar for you! If the positive energy is radiating from you, if it’s authentic, others will notice. They notice in a BIG way! And I am convinced it rubs off on them a little, too. It’s happening all around me, that’s for sure. I am starting to see more and more good coming my way. All I had to do was change my perspective and open my eyes…and there it was, in all its glory.

Focusing on the positive things seems to be hard for so many people I know. Therefore, I think this topic is worthy of focusing on for another week. So if I am lucky enough to have your beautiful and lovely faces in class with me this coming week, get ready to get positive! The world is your oyster, if you let that positive energy radiate from within. Things will start to happen in a way you may not have ever imagined, if you just emit your own frequency and put it out there into the Universe. As Albert Einstein said, “Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality.”

Namaste,

Melanie

”If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~~ Roald Dahl

sunbeam

(Photo Courtesy of Humanity Behind a Sunbeam)

Who out there has ever read a Roald Dahl book or seen a movie adaptation of any of his books? If you’ve seen or read “James and the Giant Peach”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (think Willy Wonka), or “Matilda” and enjoyed, then you probably appreciate Dahl’s ability to write things that make us stand up and take notice.

In my yoga classes this past week, I focused on the concept of energy. Lots of people associate energy with “levels”…you know, when people say things like, “She is so high energy!” or “Man, I have no energy today.” But I’m talking about your TYPE of energy…in other words, positive vs. negative. You know what I mean?

Merriam-Webster’s Web site defines energy as:

energy

So the energy I’m focusing on in my classes with my students relates to definition 1C above, which is “a usually positive spiritual force.” And THAT is what Roald Dahl is talking about in his quote above, which comes from his book, “The Twits”. In that book, the main character’s wife is considered to have grown uglier over the years due to her ugly thoughts. The full quote is this:

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. … A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

You know, I think this is SO TRUE! I really do. I can’t tell you how many people I know who wouldn’t be considered “lovely” or “beautiful” when judged by the conventional definition (I include myself in this mix, by the way)…they may be overweight, or have physical deformities, or (God forbid!) GRAY HAIR! But when I look at many of these people, all I can think of is how lovely and beautiful they are. And it’s because of their positive energy…they just radiate it from the inside out to a degree that it’s infectious and makes me feel great about the world.

There are others I know who are DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS. They could be in magazines, as they are THAT stunning. But there are many of them who, if you asked me, I would call UGLY. And it’s because they are nasty on the inside…never a nice thing to say, never thinking of anyone but themselves, never happy. Who wants to be around someone like that? Not me!

There are many people who tell me I am beautiful, and up until this week, I always thought to myself, “OK…what drugs are you on and can I have some? You MUST be on something if you think that about ME!” But, if I think about what Dahl said, then maybe I AM a lovely person. At least, I’d like to think so.

Of course, I know with 100% certainty that I have been prone to thinking ugly thoughts over my lifetime. I’m only human after all. I’m not sure anyone can be in Utopia ALL of the time. But I can say that the more I’ve evolved in my yoga practice (both the physical and the spiritual sides of yoga), the more I am able to be positive about things. I see good more than negative now, and that certainly makes me feel beautiful…probably because I just see more beauty around me with this more positive perspective.

A quote I shared with the classes I’ve been teaching this week has been one I came across by Shakti Gawain, who is an author of several personal development books. She said, “Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.”

Hopefully, your inner guidance is one that is positive. If it isn’t, then think about evolving your own practice in a way that allows you to develop more positivity. Don’t expect perfection. We all have times when it’s just not easy to find something good in a particular situation. But if you can start to be more positive, even just a fraction of a bit more, you’ll be surprised at how much stress you’ll be able to shed, how much beauty you’ll begin to notice. Things suddenly don’t look so glum when there are sunbeams shining through.

Namaste,

Melanie

 

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