In reading the book The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele as a part of The Unity Study, I am struck by just how much this ancient practice of yoga applies to our modern life, and how something so old can be so easily relatable and applicable to our current lives.
The first yama, Ahimsa or Non violence for example transcends the obvious ideas of violence, although given the current state of affairs in our country it is equally applicable to the obvious ideas of physical violence and hate that we find ourselves embroiled in as a Nation.
So the first tenet of Ahimsa is to not hurt others. It is how Mahatma Gandhi lived his life. It is through Ahimsa that he lead India to Independence from the British Raj.
But what of ourselves? What about the violence we constantly perpetuate upon ourselves? We speak to ourselves in a way that continually damages the soul. We are so hard on ourselves. We have unrealistic expectations and hold ourselves to a seemingly impossible standard. We do this from a place of meaning well and thinking that this is what needs doing to succeed in this lifetime. Even the way we acknowledge or expect our success is an act of self-violence. We expect to sacrifice, work ourselves to the bone and only then do we feel that we can deserve success. It is in fact what we teach our kids.
What if trusting Diving timing works better?
What if you could set the WHAT, but trust the HOW to God, to allow it to come from a Source far greater than ourselves?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t work hard, or that we should sit on the couch eating bon bons. But working to the point of exhaustion, doing what society has established is the way to ‘pay our dues’ in order to succeed in this world doesn’t seem to be working. It alienates families, breaks up marriages, forces children to raise themselves in the constant absence of their well-meaning, hard working parents – all to what end? To have a happy life?
So perhaps the real question is how do we define happiness? Certainly money has never led to happiness. And yet, we work endless hours in the pursuit of money ‘for our family.’ So the very reason for our hard work becomes an excuse then to work endlessly. When is that enough? (That’s another Yama – Brahmacharya or non excess).
So what if we started out with the question – what do we truly want out of life?
What if we asked ourselves that question and then trusted that the HOW would present itself to us.
What if we created space in our lives to allow God to work through us, FOR us without the belief that we know what God wants for us without that input, guidance and support?
What if we taught our children to build space into their lives from the beginning, instead of filling their every waking moment with activities that from our limited perspectives we believe to be important for their future success?
These, I believe are all ways in which we perpetuate violence against ourselves. Our lives could be designed so differently.
We are human BEings after all, and not human DOings.