It’s been awhile since I’ve written. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of my blogging, after a busy few months! When I look back at the last two blog entries, I recall (it really has been awhile!) that I had been writing about the first Limb of the 8 Limbs of yoga, the Yamas, of which there are five.
Quick review: the Yamas are personal restraints, or ways to live our life that help us to follow the path to enlightenment. Ahimsa is living without committing violence toward one’s self and others. Satya is living and speaking the truth.
The third Yama is Asteya. Asteya is not stealing: not stealing in the concrete sense of the word, such as taking something from someone or somewhere, that you have not been given permission to take. Most obviously, taking an item from a store or from someone’s home without paying or permission to do so, is stealing!
A little less obvious, but still an act of stealing would be that in Ontario it is against the law to pick our provincial flower, the Trillium. Picking a Trillium, even though no one might be aware of your action, would be an act of stealing.
And even less obvious still would be the act of stealing, for example, someone’s time. After a yoga class, you stay to talk to the instructor about a pose you are having trouble with. Even though the instructor says to you, “I would love to talk to you about this, but I have an appointment I must get to”, you continue to press on with your conversation. In that moment you are stealing the instructor’s time. Asteya, asks us to lead a life of honesty, with an ethical sense of respect for others and their belongings.
Brahmacharya can be misunderstood and can frighten or repel people from following the 8 Limbs of yoga. Brahmacharya is right use of sexual energy. This does not mean abstinence from sexual activity. Rather it means not using sex to coerce, to threaten, or to persuade. It means that sexual abuse, rape, and incest are unacceptable and using sexual energy for any of these acts will not allow one to achieve the union of body, mind, and spirit that yoga is intended to drive. Brahmacharya requires, again, an ethical sense of respect for others and how we use an energy that can manifest in a negative manner, without that ethical respect.
Finally, Apariagrapha, which for some, is the most difficult of the Yamas to achieve. Apariagrapha is not grasping, or not clinging. To what? To anything! Our life, our world, our universe is constantly changing. There is nothing in life that is permanent: not our children, our parents, our jobs, our home, our relationships, our finances, our life as we go from birth to adulthood, to old age, to death. Nothing in life is permanent and when we try to hold on to things, people, ideas, ways of being, it leads to pain and suffering.
To achieve Apariagrapha, we have to accept, acknowledge, let go, and move on. We have to surrender to life, as it is and what it holds. We do our best in the moment, once that moment is over, it is the past. We cannot change it and we cannot hold it. We have to let it go.
Which of the 5 Yamas do you struggle with or find the most difficult? For myself, it is Apariagrapha, learning not to cling and grasp at the experiences in my life that I have loved is my challenge, right now. Learning to live in the moment and enjoy what life is offering – right here, right now, is the place to be!