A Road Map to Authentic Living part II

Last time we explored how non-violence and truthfulness can support us in our personal growth and authentic living. Through exploring how we invite the Yamas into our lives we create more ease in our work and relationships.

This week we will explore the last 3 Yamas:

  • Astyeya, non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya, non-excess
  • Aparigraha, non-possessiveness

Asteya. How do we steal from ourselves and others? We steal through comparison and judgement. For many of us social media is the biggest stealer (of time, self-worth,.  We take things that don’t belong to us, not just physical objects, but we steal attention, we steal recognition, time, happiness, energy, autonomy and more. Asteya asks us to lift others up and give back. Think about the laws of reciprocity or the law of attraction. What we put out into the world, comes back to us. We often live small and steal from ourselves. We don’t go after our dreams because we lie to ourselves, saying things like, “you’re not good enough”, “now’s not the right time,” or “someday”. The other day someone in my networking group shared a quotation, “There are 7 days in a week and Someday is not one of them.”  One way we can lift ourselves up is by growing our competence. What skills or tools do you need to close the gap between where you are today and where you want to be in the future? Do you want to become a better speaker, earn more money, have a different job, be in a different relationship? Who are the people who can help you become more skilled at getting what you want?

Brahmacharya. This can also be thought of as “moderation”. Often times we get stuck in a cycle of excess. Have you looked in your closet recently to see it full of clothes you don’t wear? Are you constantly trying to keep up with the Jones’?  If we stopped looking outside of ourselves for satisfaction or gratification, we wouldn’t need to have as much. We overwork, we overeat, we overexercise, oversleep, overspend, we over do it. Tying this back into Asteya (non-stealing), what do you really want? What if you focus on your needs for a moment and were truthful (Satya) about your course of action? You can begin to tame your overindulgences in order to experience more pleasure and joy from the things that are truly meaningful. What might this look like for you?

Aparigraha. Non-possessiveness asks us to let go of the stuff that is no longer serving us. Let go of the excess clutter. Let go of the baggage that is weighing you down. Again, these might be physical items, they might be thoughts or beliefs or even relationships. The practice of letting go isn’t something that we can just do because we say were are going to let go… It is a process, of becoming aware, being vulnerable and moving from attachment to intimacy without possession. A great example is parents and their children. As parents we are attached to our childs’ wellbeing and are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they are happy and healthy. Along with non-violence and truthfulness, we need to be able to let our kids learn and grow on their own and to make mistakes. As they become teenagers and young adults, we have to recognize our own fears, our own thoughts and beliefs about what we think is right, and allow our kids to be their own person, to make their own choices.

Each of the Yamas can be explored independently or in relation to each other. The Yamas require us to make choices. They don’t tell us what is right or what is wrong. Aparigraha helped me to recognize a toxic relationship I had that was weighing me down and limiting my professional growth. It took me a long time to let that relationship go. Using the concepts of Non-violence and Truthfulness, and Non-stealing helped me become aware of the relationship dynamics, my role in it, and helped to make the right choices to negotiate the relationship and manoeuvre my way out of it.  Now I am living more authentically aligned to my values and have created space for healing to arise.

If you’d like to learn more or want some support in your exploration of the Yamas and Niyamas let’s chat.

A Road Map to Authentic Living

The Yamas and Niyamas are ethical guidelines or a map that help us make choices that are supportive and growth oriented. This is a two part post on how we can use these guidelines to support us in finding more ease in our lives.

According to the Yoga Sutras there are 8 branches of yoga that when practiced is designed to help the practitioner live a deeper and more fulfilled life. The Yamas and Niyamas are the first two branches, followed by asana – what we know as the yoga postures. So in sense we can think of the Yamas and Niyamas as guidelines for how to conduct our lives day to day which is more important than the physical movement practice. Asana came much later as a tool to help prepare the body for meditation.

There are 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas. The Yamas are guidelines for how relate to our environment and other people. The Niyamas are guidelines for how we relate to ourselves.

Yamas:

  1. Ahimsa: non-violence
  2. Satya: truthfulness
  3. Asteya: non-stealing
  4. Bramacharya: non-excess
  5. Aparigraha: non-possessiveness

Today I want to explore the concepts of Ahimsa and Satya and how we might use these principles to step into a more authentic sense of being.

Ahimsa, or non-violence encompasses our ability to move through life with courage, compassion and love for ourselves and others. Satya, or truthfulness, goes intimately hand in hand with non-violence. To be truthful, asks us to live in a way where we express ourselves in a way that is real and authentic. It’s about expressing our needs in order to grow and act with integrity and purpose.

Ahimsa encourages us to be courageous, to be brave. Do something that scares you by taking a small step out of your comfort zone, in the name of personal growth. Small steps help us to grow our comfort zone while also maintaining a level of safety.  When we stay in our fear, we are small and limited, and are essentially harming our potential. Practicing compassion, forgiveness and being kind and loving towards ourselves, helps us to extend the same warmth towards others. We are really harder on ourselves than we are on our friends or family. Self-acceptance and learning to love all aspects of ourselves carries over into all other aspects of our life.

With Truthfulness we need to seek a balance between being “real” and being “nice”. We don’t have to sacrifice our needs to appear “nice” or perfect or helpful. Acting with integrity also prevents us from using our truth as a way of hurting someone else.

Satya also asks us to express ourselves. When we limit ourselves with shoulds or should nots (based on our beliefs or what we hear from others), redirects our attention to indulgence. We hide behind overworking or over-eating or over-exercising, rather than doing what we really want to do.

Satya asks us to grow! This might mean making changes to the group(s) we belong to. Look at how the environment of the people you interact with supports or conflicts with who and how you want be in the world. Speaking our truth  and acting on it, can be difficult at times. It requires courage. Sometimes the cost of our realness just seems too high. Be brave.

Have you ever had to reneg on a promise? Do you overextend yourself? Do you then avoid the person you agreed to help, because you just don’t have the time? What might life be like if you didn’t have to apologize or cancel or avoid? These things happen because we cheat the truth and then are left with messes to clean up. Being truthful with ourselves and what we can take on our plate grows us into someone who acts and speaks with integrity, someone who is reliable and trustworthy.

The compassion of non-violence keeps truthfulness from being a personal weapon. It reminds us to think about what we say and do and how it will impact those around us.

There are many ways we can use these Yamas in application to our life. We might look at these concepts and see how they show up in our lives and consider small things we can do to improve our relationships. A friend who went through a divorce last year, used the Yamas to support herself through those trying days, weeks and months. A colleague who wanted to live in a way that was more aligned with her values, use the Yamas to guide her choices. In my personal yoga therapy practice I reflect on one aspect of a Yama each week to grow my awareness and understanding of how I show up in the world so I can be more present with my family and my clients.

This week,  consider one aspect of Ahimsa or Satya that resonated with you and explore how it shows up in your life.