Shauccha – the first Do in yoga

Sitting in the port of entry in Toronto Pearson Airport, a bit afraid. a bit fearful, a bit stressed. Why? I was waiting to be interviewed by the customs officer to enter the US to present at a work conference.

Why the fear? This was my 3rd trip to the port of entry. The first time I went with a company sponsored Nexus letter, to allow me to easily cross the border skipping the long snaking lines. But the Nexus office in niagara falls wanted to see more paperwork from my organization.

I went back & my organization prepared a letter for me which I now took to Toronto Pearson airport’s port of entry. After a long wait, the officer called his super and they decided I still didn’t have enough paperwork to justify my presenting at US conferences about 4 times annually. I did think they were rather abrupt with me that time. But more on that later.
Back to work again this time the lawyers from the US office got involved and diligently prepared the legal documents. This whole process involving several work departments took about a month. Just in time for me to travel to Milwaukee to headline a SAS user conference.

Today I arrived at the airport bright and early.. How early? Try about 6 hours ahead of my flight departure time 🙂 I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.

Monday is also the Delhi detox cleanse that friends & I do together. Living on nuts and fruits and maybe some a cup of tea and breaking fast at dinner time.

Why a cleanse? Shaucha is the first Niyama or Do’s of Yoga. Hard to do a direct translate from sanskrit to english, so loosely translated Niyama means rules, there are 5 niyamas in yoga. Shaucha is the first one meaning ‘to purify” or “to cleanse”.
Practicing shaucha externally is through body work like yoga asanas and taking in the purest of foods, easily digestible so that the body is able to make the least possible effort to digest. Leaving the body and mind to become free to do other important things, more important than digesting food all day long 🙂

Shauccha is also internal, so the idea is to think pure thoughts, and burn down the ego slowly and steadily. The same ego that makes us attach ourselves, me to myself as charu. Often comes in the way of progress. Why does this stop us from evolving? Well, when our focus is constantly on the needs of ourselves instead of what is needed and what is best for each situation, then progress is pretty far away. I don’t by any means call myself a realized yogi, just someone intensely infinitely passionately attracted by the process of self-enquiry that yoga has shown me.

Today while sitting in the customs waiting room, I wondered: what would it be like to take on some mental cleansing? What would it be like to focus on the officer’s job? Instead of cursing him for not giving me the visa last time, I started to imagine his day. All day he has to meet with travelers with tons of paperwork. He has to be constantly aware that crime rates have gone up. He cannot begin to be soft with anyone in case he lets the wrong traveler across the border. He sits chair bound with no access to natural light that streams in in my workplace. He has to limit conversation to questions that can only be answered with a Yes or No response. Empathy flooded over me and I didn’t have one negative thought about the officer.

Shaucha can be internal and external. Through the delhi detox cleanse, we go about cleaning the internal organs & freeing our digestive process of heavy duty work. Through thinking pure thoughts, through selfless thoughts as I tried out.. not thinking about the poor little me, but focussing on the officer and his needs, we purify the internal self, the instrument of the mind, so it reaches that space of quiet and calm where it can function freely and with true intelligence, not complicated by thoughts and emotions, rather focus on the task on hand. I just love yoga on how this over 5000 year old practice brings so much wisdon to daily life and provides an awesome way to navigate through the sometimes rolling waters of llfe.

I’m sure you know the end to this story. It just turned out I had the most stellar experience with all the officers I met. Every single one of them was polite and helpful. None of them gave me a hard time, like I had the previous 2 times.

Let’s see what the master Patanjali has to say about cleansing the mind:
“By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind” – sutra 1.33

Finally let’s wrap it up with the master’s advice again on mental purity.
सत्त्वशुद्धिसौमनस्यैकाग्र्येन्द्रियजयात्मदर्शनयोग्यत्वानि च॥४१॥
“Moreover, one gains purity of sattva, cheerfulness of mind, one-pointedness, mastery over the senses, and fitness for Self-realization.” -Sutra 2.41

I had a great cleanse today. I hope you get to try on shaucha next Monday.. Maybe begin with the external cleanse of limiting food to no grains. And then try taking on internal cleansing. Shaucha guards the mind, body and spirit against the elements of illness, disease, deception and mental anguish.

I’ll leave you with a musical piece that is my favorite, I love the pleasing scale which helps create a soothing balance in mind & body.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. mohideen ibramsha says:

    Dear Charu,                          June 24, 2014;

    Well and wish to hear the same sound from you and family.

    I am awaiting a momentous decision from others. Your experience — in particular the good thoughts about the deciders — helped me. I enjoyed the music.

    All the best.

    Rest in next.

    Your uncle,   Mohideen Ibramsha =================

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