Practicing purity on your spiritual path is absolutely essential if you are serious about your inner growth. What is purity and how can you practice it?

Purity can be practiced at two levels—outer and inner. Outer purity is easy to understand. It means keeping your home and workspace clean and organized. It includes maintaining your other possessions well and keeping a clean and healthy body.

Inner purity, on the other hand, is not so commonly understood. It is the focus of this article.

Inner purity is practiced at the level of the mind. It entails fostering cleanliness in the form of good and noble thoughts, intentions and emotions which will express similarly in our words and actions.

Mental purity can be compared to water. When we say water is pure, we mean there are no pathogens and contaminants in it. Similarly, when we say that the mind is pure, it means that it doesn’t have any negative thoughts disturbing its inherently peaceful state. Yes, peace is the natural condition of the mind. How can you know this to be true? Let me give you an example.

Let’s say you are caught in traffic as you are driving to the airport. As the minutes pass, you start to worry that you may miss your flight. When you arrive at the airport, you find out that your flight has been delayed by two hours, and so you are not late after all. What happens to your anxiety? It disappears.

Now, your mind didn’t become peaceful by getting it from somewhere outside. You regained it once the worrisome thoughts left you. Your peaceful, happy state was only disturbed by the worry and tension that you had been experiencing. This shows that your mind’s natural condition is peace.

Practising purity on your spiritual path entails removing the mental disturbances so you can experience the underlying peace that was already there. We don’t have to create peace. It’ll naturally shine through when the impurities of the mind are removed.

We brush our teeth and bath or shower everyday. But how frequently do we clear out impurities such as emotional hurts, negative feelings and judgements towards ourselves and others, and worries and anxieties from our minds?

Progress on the spiritual path is only possible when the mind is made pure.

Ideally, this purification process should be done daily as negativity, like dust is always around. If we can’t do it daily, we should carve out some time to clean out the mind on a regular basis. But we all know that we carry memories of hurts and negative feelings from many years ago. Many times, we aren’t even aware of them.

For purity on your spiritual path, start by detecting your negative thoughts and emotions

To begin the process of cleaning up the mind, you have to first see what’s in there. After all, you can’t change what you don’t see. For purity on your spiritual path, start by detecting your negative thoughts and emotions. They then have to be negated or sublimated.

To do this, the mind has to be directed to turn inwards and observe itself. This may not be easy as the mind is accustomed to looking outwards, not inwards. But the rewards of peace are definitely worth the effort and time.

Find about 20-30 minutes of some quiet alone time when you will not be disturbed. Simply sit and observe your thoughts. Don’t engage the mind in any other activity. Just allow the thoughts to rise up and become aware of them.

This practice will give you an idea what your mind is made of, and through that knowing, clarity about how you are really living your life. This self-awareness is the key to inner transformation.

You may relive memories, old and recent, and as you replay the events in your mind, be an observer and become aware of the intentions behind your words and actions.

Be aware of any judgements, harshness at the level of your speech and actions, and underlying expectations. You may not have been aware of these things at the time but during this process of introspection, they will be clearer to you.

As you become aware of the contents of your mind, your words and behaviour, you may feel dissatisfaction, disappointment, guilt or perhaps even shame.

Be careful to not allow self-criticism or self-blame to seep in. This will only add more impurities that will agitate the mind.

To cultivate purity on your spiritual path, substitute the negative with the positive

As a spiritual seeker, striving to gain purity on your spiritual path, you will naturally want to remove the inner negativities as soon you become aware of them. You will want a clear conscience and peace of mind. Use your new awareness and feelings that you observed as the motivation to do this.

Patanjali the “Father of Yoga” in his famous Yoga Sutras of Patanjali tells us what to do: When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of.

What this means is that if there are thoughts of self-criticism or judgment, bring in thoughts of self-love and acceptance. If there are feelings of resentment or even hatred towards someone, purposefully send them blessings and wish them well with as much feeling and sincerity you can muster. Even though this is hard, this kind of opposite thinking cleans the mind.

This process becomes a little easier when we remember that we all have good and bad qualities in us and if we look for the good, it’ll be easier to let the negativities go. For example, the person who wronged you may be a dedicated son to his elderly father, or a tireless volunteer in the community.

When you sincerely and deliberately look for the good qualities in others, you may be better able to attribute the “bad” done to you to a variety of reasons—a bad day, misunderstanding the situation, financial problems, stress at home, a difficult childhood and so on.

If you are aware of holding on to unforgiveness towards others for past hurts, resolve to forgive and let them go. If you are not able to do so because the pain is so great, pray and ask for divine help. Prayer doesn’t have to be formal and the best prayer is one that comes directly from your heart. A sincere call to the divine in whichever form appeals to you will clean out your inner impurities and heal you.

Practicing purity on the spiritual path requires us to live in full self-awareness and integrity. Our thoughts, words and actions must be in alignment. Since thoughts express as words and actions, the thoughts have to be pure.

Replacing negative thoughts with the opposite, positive ones is an important discipline to ensure that we live honestly, true to what we know to be good and noble. This is living in integrity. This can come only when there is inner purity.

A peaceful mind is what matters the most

A pure mind is nurtured through regular and honest introspection. Impure or negative thoughts have to be rooted out and meticulously sublimated into positive ones. This requires a strong desire for inner growth and peace of mind.

As you grow spiritually, what others say and do don’t matter as much as what you yourself think, say and do. You become so acutely self-aware that any deviation from what you know to be good and true will bring much inner agitation. You will quickly want to remedy it by clearing it out.

Therefore, the importance of practicing purity on your spiritual path is clear—a pure mind is a peaceful mind, and this is what matters the most.

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Manisha Melwani

Manisha Melwani is a teacher and the author of, "Your Spiritual Journey" She offers spiritual and wellness solutions for life and stress management. She teaches classes in personal growth, stress management and meditation. Contact her for more information or to have her speak to your group or organization. She also offers private counseling sessions on-line.
Manisha Melwani

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