July 30, 2021

Why I Cleanse my Space (& Science Recommends you do Too).

When people enter our home, they often say, “I feel relaxed here,” or “the energy feels like that of my yoga studio,” or “I dig the vibe.”

I have even had friends and family say that they feel safe in our home.

It’s no magic! It’s part of my “dinacharya” (daily practice) to cleanse our home and space. My work is intense and emotionally demanding—I meet a lot of people, travel avidly (pre-pandemic), and listen to other people’s stories or struggles. Between shaking hands and hugging, there is an energy transfer. My openness makes me good at what I do but it also makes me vulnerable (Hello, fellow empaths!). It’s easy for me to lose balance in my energetic body if I don’t practice ritualistic cleansing of my energy field, home, and spaces regularly with sage or palo santo.

Cleaning spaces and energies isn’t a new age awakening for me. Generations of women in my family have been doing this ancient practice using select herbs or spices or resin to create calm and safety. The art of smudging, or clearing the negative energy from a space, is a ritual for purification that I learned from my mom.

My mother and I were different people or so I thought. But feeding our loved ones and protecting them was always high on both of our lists. I am high “Pitta,” so speaking up and giving others a voice isn’t a challenge for me. But my mother was more docile, so she protected us in her own ways through these spiritual practices.

Mom relied on bay leaves, whole red chili, camphor, and other spices and herbs in her kitchen to create “smoke.” The smoke produced from the sage or any other spices and herbs is said to help release and clear out negative energy from the environment and even a person’s energy field. There was also a lemons and green chilies combination threaded together to dispel negative energy. Whether you had returned from a funeral or an otherwise happy kid was suddenly overly emotional, or if you’d bought a car, or we had celebrated something big (or small), she would say, “Nazar utarna hai.” That’s Hindi for “I want to ward off the evil eye,” to ensure we weren’t holding any negative energy. If people in a happy marriage suddenly started to experience uncharted roughness or someone’s job got more stressful by the day or if a healthy person fell sick, she would burn herbs to cleanse their energy and uplift their mood.

My mother also maintained that not everyone marvels at other people’s lives with envy or admires them with any bad intention. Sure, there are a few bad apples who can’t seem to find happiness for others. But a large majority mean well, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t dispel their energy. Their vibes and energy can stick around and have a negative influence. Everything is made of energy and has its own unique vibration, including each of us.

When Mom died suddenly, I felt like there was no one there to “protect” us any longer. So, I assumed the role of being the gatekeeper of the family. I went from cleansing practices for our home and clients to offering that to other people. If a cousin or a friend reaches a milestone or achieves success or experiences a dreadful period or is feeling stuck or is going through major life transition or feeling like they are in a funk—I get grounded, set my intention, and burn spices/herbs to dissipate any old or yucky energy from their home and lives.

That said…despite being spiritual, I am a child of science. Want to know how and why ritualistic, energy cleansing works?

Here is what science says:

Everything in the universe is composed of vibrations and energy. Do you realize that most human beings rarely look at the world through this lens? Think about it; you are composed of energy. The air you breathe is made up of energy. So is the chair that you’re sitting on, the animals around you, rocks, trees, everything is energy. Energy gets heavy, repugnant, and stagnant if we don’t do something about it. So, you do the cleanse.

When sage is burned, it releases negative ions, which is linked to putting people into a positive mood.

The smoke produced from the dried sage or the smoke that flows out into the air from palo Santo is full of negatively charged ions. These negative ions bond with the positive ions that are already in the air. These positive ions can be viruses, mold spores, bacteria, dust, and other harmful particles that may be present. These positive ions can also often be produced by power lines, cell phones, televisions, and other electronic devices. Positive ions built up can also be caused by people and/or items that may be carrying some negative emotions, thoughts, or feelings.

Positive ions are always around us, and they can start to carry some unpleasant energy if they start to build up.

An excess of positive ions has been found to cause damage to cells in the human body, affect brain function, and cause feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. White Prairie sage is used as an important remedy for anxiety, depression, and mood disorders in some cultures.

A 2016 research project for the University of Mississippi established that white sage (Salvia apiana) is rich in compounds that activate certain receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for elevating mood levels, reducing stress, and even alleviating pain.

Some research suggests that sage contains compounds that could help ease insomnia.

Research has proven that burning sage removes an incredible 94 percent of bacteria in the air, with the air still being clear the next day. Is it a surprise that the Latin word for sage salvia stems from the word heal?

Many traditions in cultures all around the world, including places of worship have been using “smoke” as a cleansing tool. In Ayurveda, “fire” is considered sacred. In Hindu marriages, the bride and the groom take seven rounds around a sacred fire (Holy witness), which is lit for them to take their vows, while Vedic mantras are chanted by a priest.

If you are still wondering, cleansing can easily be incorporated into your weekly routine or meditative practice. We can’t influence or understand other people’s motivations, but we can incorporate purifying practices to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The most important aspect of any cleansing ritual is to restore balance. The idea is that by burning certain herbs in a space, the smoke generated attaches itself to the negative energy and as the smoke dissipates, so does the negative energy.

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” ~ Carl Sagan


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