Yamas are often written about and discussed as five moral disciplines of Pantanjali. But like any sage wisdom, take what you can and apply it to your life to be the best human you can be.
- Ahimsa -अहिंसा- Non-violence. Don’t hurt anyone or anything. Don’t speak violently or act violently. Don’t think violently. Wish someone well. Don’t wish them disaster. Help each other. Let someone in your lane, particularly if their lane has a closure or blockage! Create an attitude of nurturing and realization so that all is one. Try to see the other side of the story. Envision everyone as the same and connected so that human beings may spring from egoistic impulses towards unification and transcendence of the spirit.
- Satya -सत्य- Truthfulness. To be seen as you truly are. To say what you truly behold within, to shine pure light without a veil. There is no greater way to hurt your connection to others than lying. All deeds should be rooted in truthfulness and honesty.Without truthfulness the recitation of all mantras is useless, all becomes futile. One and all should take refuge in honoring the truth. Never try to impress others with deception. Try to impress yourself and find happiness within you.
- Asteya –अस्तेय- Non-stealing. You can’t take nor should you want to take something from someone else. It can be food, a pen, clothing, any of the many materialistic items we keep, but also you should avoid taking intangible items from people. Just because people can’t see you taking them, doesn’t mean they’re there for the taking. For example, asking people to do things for you that you can do for yourself. Why should someone have to look up a phone number for you, tell you where to vacation, or what they thought of some restaurant, school? Your time is not more or less valuable than anyone else. Learn for yourself. Or how about cutting to the front of the line. Or taking over someone’s friend or family member, taking someone’s pride, debilitating their humor, wit, courage, or god-forbid their sex.
Justification for this cruel behavior: I have heard folks say they can sense weakness as if this somehow justifies their actions, like this unfortunate event was somehow inevitable for the victim and not you the actor. Whatever it is that you have taken isn’t yours and it will never be yours. It will always be something that you took from someone else, a reminder that your actions have inconvenienced someone else for selfish and personal gain. It is inevitable that this behavior is something that will make you feel badly about you. If you think not, just try to imagine how great it felt that one time when someone returned something to you that you left somewhere. That greatness will come to you when you start respecting other people in the way you wish to be respected.
- Bramacharya -ब्रमचार्य – Moderation. All thing in moderation, as the old aphorism goes. We often repeat this regarding food and drink, drug, etc. We like to compare ourselves to someone really low on the bar, someone who is setting a standard for no one. Why? Because we want to believe that we’re not that bad, that things can be worse, and it isn’t false. Things can be always be worse, but this kind of logic then becomes synonymous with self-harm. Moderation is key about your consumption, but maybe of all the things you consume and not just the simple and obvious food and drink. For example, how much television do you watch in a day? Do you work on the things you say you want to? How much social media do you keep in a work-day? Are you becoming the best person you can possibly be? Do you read as much as you watch and listen? How often do you look at your activities and try to create a balance? Instead of categorizing them between bad and good and trying to minimize the bad and increase the good, what about finding variety where you have none? What could this do for you? New choices bring about new results. Moderation doesn’t have to only mean the avoidance of excess or extremes, what if it meant to moderate or monitor. The old aphorism also goes, “The un-examined life is not worth living.”
- Aparigraha- अपरिग्रह – Non Grasping or Non Attachment. This is the most difficult to explain. Aren’t we always grasping for something? A smoke break, lunch, a relationship, a house, a car, new clients, that divorce… It seems like life would be empty if we weren’t reaching for things and then actually attaining them. Even in our yoga practice or gym routine, we are grasping for the ability to do inversions, to be able to squat x amount of lbs. To have this particular body shape, wear that clothing, or to be able to transcend and reach Samadhi through meditation. So, how then do we live in a world that is bent on us thinking and living for the future without grasping for things we do not yet have or need? Don’t even try. It’s impossible. Even the act of trying to live in a non-grasping manner would possibly bring you into a grasping for something phase. The main way to demonstrate that you are non-grasping is to remain as centered as possible and maintain a deep knowledge and trust that you are not attached to whatever it is, that whatever the outcome, you are not going to be devastated or made by great by any one of these things/events.