Shauca in the Mind, Body, Spirit, & Surroundings
The first Niyama, Shauca, is translated as clearness, cleanliness, & purity, which refers to purity of our mind, body, speech, & actions.
Shauca in the Mind
Shauca, as it relates to our mental ongoings, may be approached through the metaphor of Sita & the Golden Deer. A legend in the Ramayana, it is a tale of the sometimes powerful undercurrent & momentum of our thoughts & mental chitter-chatter. Symbolically shedding our notions of selfhood through the non-attachment to our thoughts is a liberating practice of presence. We are not our thoughts. There is no need to let them dominate our mental fortitude.
Learning to harness the grounding energy of our pranayama practice can be of great assistance in bringing ourselves back to the very here & now. Each breath we take is a practice in Shauca as the breath is always, & can only be, experienced in the present moment. We cannot breathe tomorrow’s breath, just as we cannot breathe yesterday’s breath. The breath requires us to be in the present moment. If we feel carried away by our thoughts or emotions, we can return to our conscious breathing. In this practice, our mind stills as our focus is shifted toward our slow, deep breathing. The mind cannot think while we are concentrating on the breath.
Being aware of our wandering minds & their tendency to thrust into worried, anxious thoughts of the future & guilts or regrets of the past permits us the opportunity to utilize the breath as a tool & resource to consciously calm the mind. In calming the mind, we calm the senses, & nervous system, which allows our body to feel more at ease.
Shauca in the Body
The term “purity” can be a bit…cringy. Our modern associations of this word are often quick to notions of abstinence, as is commonly mistaken for the practice of the Brahmacharya, the fourth Yama. In the light of Shauca, practicing “purity” in the body, need not equate to abstinence, or stringent prayers of contrition.
On an emotional & physical level, practicing Shauca requires us to enter each moment anew. We remain ‘pure’ by open-mindedly approaching our sexual curiosities, free from previously conditioned responses & attachments. In this way, we reclaim our sexual innocence through thoughtful, mindful exploration of our physical bodies in order to become increasingly aware of our emotional & spiritual bodies.
By questioning the sources of our attachments & where those learned energies or judgments may have originated from, we have the opportunity to unlearn the harsh habits & patterns of thinking that were previously so ingrained that we became hardly, if at all, aware of them. In recognizing them, we afford ourselves a choice to continue with them or to adopt a new way of thinking.
Shauca in Consumerism, Minimalism & Ecosex
Minimalism often inspires thoughts of stark interior design & trendy hipsters drinking ironically named coffee. Perhaps in its greater depths, minimalism is about reducing waste, using resources efficiently, & being able to do more with less. By conserving our resources through responsible living practices, we are able to apply intention to our time, finances, environmental impacts, & necessary sacrifices as a matter of being human.
A much lengthier post would be needed if we were to broach the crippling, albeit, saturating societal motivations of consumerism. In each opportunity, we are coerced into believing its promised falsities. Without doubt or hesitation, if its seductive & alluring incentives were truthful, we would all be happier, healthier, more beautiful & overall, more successful in our lives. This, unfortunately, is utter bollocks.
The fraudulent & deceitful claims that purchasing any given product will by & large produce a predictable, desirable, & achievable result for any large, nonpredictable population is nonsense. Our learned association with this methodology is the source of much disappointment, financial frustration, & unnecessary waste.
In questioning the profit-oriented schema of consumerism & instead reprioritizing the health of ourselves & of our environment, we practice Shauca both by limiting the clutter in our minds motivated by intentions sprouted outside of the betterment of ourselves, but in that process, we declutter our daily living spaces & minimize the waste that we generate. In relating to nature on a more direct level, we are able to simplify our priorities, our space, & our mental chitter-chatter.