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Pure Grief

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

Saucha, what a funny word. I had never heard that word until I became a student of yoga. In the yoga tradition there are eight limbs of study. One of these limbs is the Niyamas. The Niyamas speak of the attitudes and behaviors we have toward ourselves. This niyama, saucha, can be translated as purity and cleanliness. The concept of saucha has two facets that work together. First, we have purity and cleanliness of our bodies, our thoughts and our words, our outward appearance and actions. Second, we have purity and cleanliness with every moment of our lives, our inward focus. The goal of saucha is to live purposefully. We have the intention of living in a way that becomes less cluttered, scattered and disheveled, in order to live less burdened and more peaceful. When we are clean and pure in our bodies, thoughts and words, each moment we live will be more intentional, focused and rewarding.

How does one living in the mess of grief even begin to practice saucha? Very slowly. Very compassionately. Very gracefully. Start with the outward focus of cleanliness. When death and devastation have taken up residence in our homes and lives, the simple task of cleanliness becomes less of a priority. Start there, clean your body with warm soap and water. Next, look at your home. Has someone offered to clean for you? Accept the offer if the task is too daunting for you. Burn off stress by running the vacuum or doing the dishes that are piling up. Third, look at your diet. Is the food you are eating nourishing or robbing your body of fuel? These are three areas that benefit when we choose to practice saucha while living with grief. Practicing saucha doesn’t have to feel like a huge ordeal, it can be as simple as throwing away junk mail.

Saucha isn’t solely an outward practice of cleanliness. According to Deborah Adele, saucha is an inward journey of purity. “Purity is not our attempt to make something different than it is; rather it is to be pure in our relationship with it, as it is in the moment.” (The Yamas and Niyamas, Copyright 2009 Deborah Adele, On-Word Bound Books LLC, p 105)

All of us that are living with grief would like our lives to be different. We are invited to take the grief in our life and be pure in our relationship with it. We cannot change it; however, can we be pure in it? What does this even look like? First, we acknowledge that grief is real. We call it grief. Grief is grief and nothing else. Death brings grief. Next, we experience the emotions of grief and not push them aside and ignore them. We sit with these emotions, feeling them in our bodies, listening to them being expressed and loving ourselves as we experience them. Third, we honor our grief. We honor the sacredness of grief. Even though grief hurts, grief is the result of great love. We honor our grief through contemplation and pondering. We honor the relationship that was created and lived. It is because of this relationship that we even get to experience grief. With each moment of grief, we can ask ourselves if we are living our grief in a pure form or are we living grief in a tarnished and tainted way, dishonest with ourselves and others. Living pure grief is living moment by moment in unadulterated emotions, feelings and desires; not trying to make it something different than it is.

By practicing saucha in our grief, we are living in such a way that unclutters our energy. We are open, honest and pure. We are not burdened by trying to live something other than our grief. We are not using harmful coping mechanisms, resorting to fake platitudes or pretending to be “fine” when we are deeply hurting. The grief in our life will be authentic, real and pure. Does practicing saucha lessen the pain of grief? Probably not. However, by practicing saucha we are living our grief in purity. We are feeling the raw emotions that come with the experience. We are aware of the moment-by-moment shift that is so common with grief. We are living the mess in all of its ugly, horrible splendor. This is living with Grief In Life.


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