THE 8 LIMBS OF YOGA – PART 2 NIYAMA

8 limbs (1)

Self-discipline and Spiritual observances are the main focus for the second limb – Niyama. Regular temple or church service attendance, prayers before meals, personal meditation practices, habitual contemplative walks alone are fine examples of practicing niyama.

Just as in the Yama, there are five niyamas:

Saucha: Cleanliness

When I think about cleanliness, I think about the Japanese Concept of 5S. 5S is a workplace standard but it can be utilized in our homes, in our minds, and in our heart spirits. The 5S system is defined as:

Seiri or Sort – Put things in order (Remove what is not needed and keep what is needed) Let that sink in a bit. When we put things in order in our homes and work places, we are able to do the same in our psyche.

Seiton or Straighten – Proper arrangement (Place things in such a way that they can be easily reached whenever they are needed) Bring the most important items to the front.

Seiso or Shine – Clean (Keep things clean and polished; no trash or dirt in the workplace) Take out the trash in the physical and in the mental.  I love this piece from The Way of The Peaceful Warrior:

Seiketsu or Standardize – Purity (Maintain cleanliness after cleaning – perpetual cleaning) Because the laundry is never completely done, we keep doing what works to maintain cleanliness. Dusting, wiping, sweeping, etc.

Shitsuke or Sustain – Commitment (A typical teaching and attitude toward any undertaking to inspire pride and adherence to standards) It takes commitment to keep our homes, our minds and our heart spirits clean daily. [1]

Samtosa: Contentment

This word is so simple yet so unattainable for many. I know I struggle with it. Though, not as much as I did when I was younger and when I was using. But how does one find contentment? The Mayo Clinic has a good piece on this subject and here are a few simple suggestions they make:

Devoting time to family and friends – I had to pause writing here to schedule a painting class for son and I  because I have had it in the back of my mind to do so. The weeks fly by and we realize we have not had any quality time with our family members. Make it a priority.

Appreciating what you have  – Wabi-Sabi is another Japanese concept I have come to love and appreciate. For in seeing the beauty in worn  items that we own, we are not so quick to go out and spend money to replace them. We can have a full appreciation in a tattered pair of curtains shuffling in the breeze on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. We can relish in the history of the journey a piece of wood traveled to become that now old secretary’s desk.

As a young man in Japan, I learned the great philosophy of Wabi-Sabi: rustic simplicity, quietness, and understated elegance combined with the patina of beauty and serenity that comes with age. Wisdom is to be found in natural simplicity; beauty in that which is flawed. May you find them, too, my good friend, here in these words” – Wabi-Sabi The Bushido Poems of a Samurai Warrior of The Spirit.

Maintaining an optimistic outlook – Difficult while we are in the midst of another race to the Presidential nomination. I myself, being one of the most optimistic people I know, have found myself shaking my head in disbelief of the crazy outcomes of our current debates. But I also know that this too shall pass. Sometimes the future looks scary. But whoever said things are always going to be rainbows and butterflies? When times are tough, we hold on to the  knowledge that  good things are on the way. And they really are.

Feeling a sense of purpose – If we have no sense of purpose, then what are we doing here? Sometimes that purpose is leading a community. Sometimes it is playing chess. Nothing we do is without purpose. We just have to take the time to identify it and then we can feel that motivation to move in our purpose.

Living in the moment – How many memes do we see and stories do we hear about living in the moment? Sometimes, in the morning, my mind is saying “I am brushing my teeth”, to remind myself that I am in the moment. There are moments when one can walk barefoot in the grass, with closed eyes and feel the coolness of the air, smell the blossoming jasmine, hear the birds chirping and taste the sweetness of fresh berries growing in the garden. This is a moment. Live it. [2]

Drishti MoveEast

Tapas: Heat; Spiritual Austerities – Tapas is doing something you do not want to do or not doing something you want to do. It should have a positive effect on one’s life and the lives of others.

Tapas should be simple with success being attainable,  yet it should also be difficult and challenging enough to engage the will.

Understanding tapas best is to think of it as consistent perseverance toward your goals: getting on the yoga mat every day, sitting in meditation daily—or forgiving your loved one for the umpteenth time.

Peter asked Jesus how many times should he forgive his brother. Peter thought maybe seven times might be a fair limit. But Jesus said “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).

Tapas is a more subtle, more constant practice, concerned with the quality of life and relationships and not so much on focusing on gritting your teeth through another few seconds in a difficult asana.

Svadhyaya: Study of the Sacred Scriptures and of One’s Self – There are many Sacred Scriptures from The Holy Bible, The Koran, The Bhagavad Gita, etc. Some go to books like Calvin and Hobbs for their moral learning. Whatever it is, consistent study will only bring out wonderful results in our lives.

AARONBURDEN

Photo by Aaron Burden

Isvara pranidhana: Surrender to God – My favorite! I will never forget the day I waved the white flag and surrendered my addictions to my God. I thought I would be beat down for the rest of my life. As it turned out, he moment I surrendered, I felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders.

I always considered surrender as a form of losing. But I learned in my life, I must surrender to win. I have been winning at life ever since! Not in the way I once thought, not in competition with others but in competition with my former self. All I have to do is be better than I was and I am a winner. You can be a winner too, just surrender!

Wow! I am learning so much about applying The 8 Limbs to my life and I hope you are also! Another week down, another movement toward The Elysian Life! Stay Blissful My Friends – E

  1. http://www.isixsigma.com/dictionary/5s/
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/how-to-be-happy/art-20045714

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