The 8 Limbs of Yoga – Part 7 Dhyana

A continuous flow of perception (or thought) is Dhyana (meditation).[1]

Forgetting the body, your surroundings, and your relationships.  This will help improve your  meditation a great deal. Remembering God will help you forget all other things.

We are able to taste the spiritual consciousness by withdrawing our minds from all other senses and fixing them on our meditation. This is considered “Samadhi”, the highest goal of Yogis.

To reach this point of meditation, it is suggested that you meditate in the same spot daily.

Simply put, to initially attain samadhi requires a unity of both body and mind, so in stilling the body and calming its energy flows (by detaching from them and the sensations they generate), we can speed any efforts to calm our minds. Through the stability of sitting meditation, comforting the body helps still the mind for its entry into samadhi. In other words, if we can calm the body consciousness, we can detach from it and achieve the emptiness required of samadhi concentration. [2]

Sound easy? Yeah, no. But is it attainable? Absolutely. Most likely we arrive at Dhyana/Samadhi when we least expect it. Because we are not concentrating, focusing, or willing it. It just happens, and then becomes our second nature.

In the video, Amir Mourad explains more about Dhyana and the difference between the Western concept of mediation.

So attaining Samadhi through Dhyana, like any other desire we have in life, is done by not trying too hard. Just let it happen. And so it is. Stay Blissful my friends – E



The 8 Limbs of Yoga – Part 6 Dharana

Now comes yoga in its essential essence, and now also begins the last stroke that the Yogi deals, which decides his fate. This is the stage of Dharana or concentration of the whole of one’s psychic being (Chitta).

A perennial flow of dharana is called dhyana or meditation. If Dharana is the drop, dhyana is the river. Many concentrations make a meditation. Qualitatively they are non-different, but functionally there is a distinction between them. [1]


Photo by Annie Spratt


Have you ever been so engrossed in a novel or a television show that you ignore some of your basic instincts? Thoughts like, “I’m thirsty, sweaty, hungry, sleepy, cold” or “I have to pee”, jump into your mind but then flicker out until sometime later you feel your bladder is going to burst. This is concentration. Dharana.

Though we find it easier to pay no mind to these instincts when enveloped in something so exciting, we then believe it is damn near impossible to do so when in a state of meditation.

This past year, I have challenged myself, or rather have been challenged due to the many hot flashes I experience daily. I will be in a Yoga  pose or in a meditation and will feel sweat dripping down my face. All my life, I have abhorred sweat. But now I practice through it. In addition, I started taking Hot Yoga as an additional test of my instincts.  I have come to love sweat. Ha! I never thought I would ever utter those words.

Practicing Dharana can be by focusing on an object, the breath or a mantra. Sit in a comfortable meditation posture with the spine erect. Commit to stillness. Find your Focus:

  • Focus on your natural breath, observing its sound, flow in and out of the nostrils, and where it brushes over the skin.
  • Focus on your third eye center. Observe colors, shapes, and movement.
  • Focus on an external object, such as a flower, or an image of a deity or great teacher.
  • Focus on a mantra, such as “I am Love”, repeating it audibly for several minutes, and then internally for several minutes.
  • Focus on sound, like the ocean, flute, or drumbeat.

This week, start off the process of Dhrana by letting go of multitasking. Fully engulf yourself in your activities, by not planning on the next. Be in the moment, genuinely. Engage your five senses. Experience each event as an event. Experience love, joy, peace, serenity, and stay blissful my friends – E

The 8 Limbs of Yoga Part 5 Pratyahara

Pratyahara: “the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses.”

“Pratyahara is twofold. It involves withdrawal from wrong food, wrong impressions and wrong associations, while simultaneously opening up to right food, right impressions and right associations. We cannot control our mental impressions without right diet and right relationship, but pratyahara’s primary importance lies in control of sensory impressions which frees the mind to move within.” [1]

Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will. Aspirants abstain from sense pleasures, but they still crave for them. These cravings all disappear when they see the highest goal. Even of those who tread the path, the stormy senses can sweep off the mind. They live in wisdom who subdue their senses and keep their minds ever absorbed in me. – Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Two, Verses 58-60

Photo Source:

“In Sanskrit, pratyahara literally means “to draw toward the opposite“. – B.K.S. Iyengar

It is incredible how my life seems to be running parallel to each weekly topic of the 8 Limbs in this series. Although I understand the concept of Pratyahara on the mat, (Savasana being my favorite pose), this is another concept that crosses over into our everyday lives.

As I shared in my last blog, I am in the thick of training to become a Victim Advocate for Alternatives To Violence. This is a wonderful local organization, which provides help to those who have survived Domestic Violence. I am truly honored that they have accepted me into their program.

That being said, we have discussed some very heavy topics. Because of such heaviness, part of our training was on self-care, which included setting boundaries.

Most, if not all of us in the group are very empathetic and must set some strong emotional boundaries if we wish to be successful as advocates. Some of the situations we will face are grave. Some will involve children. We discussed how our first instinct when it comes to children would be to hug or hold a child. We also discussed the potentially negative impact such an act can bring upon ourselves as well as the family involved in the incident. So, we must “draw toward the opposite” action.

This discussion resonated well with my research into the practice  of Pratyahara.


Practicing Pratyahara

Pratyahara has been credited to helping others overcome anxiety and gain better concentration/focus. There are many traditional forms of Pratyahara as well as modern-day suggestions:

  • Pranayama -There are various breathing techniques. Try this one:
    • When you breath out, at the end of the exhale, breath out a bit more. This is one way to eliminate toxicity, both in mind and matter.
  • Savasana Body Scan
  • If you really want to challenge yourself and have ten days, go on a Vipassana Meditation Retreat
  • Mindful Eating – Eat your meal in silence and allow yourself to chew slowly, tasting your food.
  • Mindful Cleaning – Removing clutter.
  • Turn off all electronics for an hour and sit in silence. Avoid reaching for your mobile phone, tablet, laptop as difficult as it might be.

I once knew a man who loved guns. He purchased a particularly special gun and placed it in his cabinet. Once a week, for several weeks, he would go to the cabinet and stare appreciatively at this gun. Then he would choose another gun to use at the shooting range. As much as he wanted to use the special gun, he challenged himself and did the opposite, using another instead. This would be a form of Pratyahara.

So we can practice Pratyahara by not purchasing the beautiful dress online when we want to or  turning on Netflix when we feel the need to escape. Instead, turn within, withdraw from the energy of senses.

My sobriety is a form of Pratyahara. You see, my nature is to drink and use drugs. One day at a time, I choose not to. It has gotten easier over the years, yet I still know that I am only one drink or drug away from relapse. So I continue to work my steps and participate in the program of recovery, passing it on to newcomers who do not yet know how to draw toward the opposite”.

How do you see yourself practicing Pratyahara? Can you commit to starting with one item a day for 21 days?  I wish you all the serenity of this practice. Stay Blissful My Friends – E

The 8 Limbs of Yoga – Part 4 Pranayama

This past week, I have had to deal with the loss of a friend and the loss of an extended family pet. In addition, we had a blizzard, which led to many schedule changes. Easter is upon us and my new granddaughter was scheduled to arrive Friday morning. This led me to run into Kmart for a few last minute items. Big mistake.

Apparently there was a liquid detergent spill on the other side of the store. Didn’t matter how far away it was. Suddenly, I began coughing uncontrollably. When the cough drop didn’t work, and as I got closer to the spill, I realized I was in a full-fledged asthma attack. Big Bummer.

The following day, my granddaughter entered our world! Wow! This is a lot. It would all be perfect if I could just breathe…

Which brings us to the Fourth Limb of  Yoga: Pranayama

Is there anything magical about breathing? Well, without the breath, there is no life. Prana, meaning “life force” and yama, meaning “to control”. [1]

One of the things I love most about Kundalini Yoga is the intense focus on the practice of Pranayama such as in the video below:


There are several types of Pranayama here are just a few:

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Also known as Belly Breathing or Deep Breathing. It is a very simple  yet powerful form of breathing:


Photo Courtesy of:

Diaphragmatic breathing is one of the most recommended breathing excersizes for asthma and other respitory diseases.

  1. Place one hand on your bellybetween your lower ribs and navel.
  2. Relax your upper chest and shoulders.
  3. Breathe in through your nose, you should feel your tummy rise or move out as you breathe in.
  4. Breathe out gently through your lips, you will feel  your belly moving in.
  5. Practice first when sitting and relaxed so that it is automatic when you really need it.

Suryan Bhedan Pranayama (Right Nostril Breathing)

Surya is a Hindu word which means, “the sun”. In Surya Bheda Pranayama, we activate the right nostril channel(Surya Nadi).

Here are a few benefits one gets from practicing Right Nostril Breathing:

  • Has been known to help with weight loss.
  • Increasess vitality.
  • Very effective for depression, low energy.
  • Helps with  stress management.
  • Reduces anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.
  • May bring on Spiritual Awakenings.
  • It provides all the benefits of Deep breathing as well

Note: Surya Bheda Pranayama is mentioned in the yoga texts Hatha Yoga Pradeepika and the Gheranda Samhita.

  1. Sit in a meditative asana (position).
  2. Straighten your trunk and spine and place the hands on the knees. Take few relaxed breaths before starting the practice.
  3. Next,  raise the right hand and place the forefinger and the middle finger on the forehead between the eyebrows.
  4. Use the ring finger to close the left nostril.
  5. Breathe in slowly through the right nostril and fill the lungs entirely.
  6. Close both nostrils (thumb closes the right nostril and ring finger closes the left nostril) and hold the breath.
  7. Perform Jalandhara Bandha (the chin lock) and Moola Bhandha.
  8. Hold the breath to the extent that you are comfortable. In the yoga texts, it is said that one should hold the breath till perspiration appears. But, be cautious with breath retention and never overdo it.
  9. Release Moola Bhandha and Jalandhara Bandha and exhale through the left nostril (Ida Nadi), keeping the right nostril closed.
  10. This is one round. Repeat as many rounds as comfortable. You may start with 5 rounds and later increase it to 10 or beyond. Also, the duration of Kumbhaka should be increased carefully over a period of time. Advanced practitioners can go up to 80 rounds per sitting.[2]


Ujjayi Pranayama

One of the most popular forms of Pranayama  Ujiayi is particularly useful for calming the mind. It is also known to be beneficial to those suffering from stress, insomnia, and mental tension. With practice, you’ll learn to guide your breath — allowing your breath to guide your practice.

In contrast to other pranayamas, practiced while seated or lying down, Ujjayi is actually performed throughout your practice in every pose. The steadiness, sound, and depth of the Ujjayi breath assist in uniting (Yoga means union after all),  your mind, body, and spirit to the present moment. This unification brings fullness and depth to our individual practice. In addition, the deep exhalations and extra oxygen fortify and reinforce your physical practice!

Would you like to release pent-up emotions and frustrations? Practiced Ujiayi routinely!

  1. Begin seated in a comfortable position, such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana). Let your body relax and gently close your eyes. Drop your mouth open slightly, relaxing your jaw and your tongue.
  2. Take a cleansing breathe.
  3. Feel the air of your inhalations passing through your windpipe.
  4. On your exhalations, slightly contract the back of your throat, as you do when you whisper.  Maintain the slight constriction of the throat on your inhalations, as well. (You will notice your breath making an “ocean” sound, softly moving in and out.)
  5. When you feel comfortable  with the control your throat during the inhalations and exhalations, gently close your mouth and begin breathing only through your nose.
  6. Keep the same constriction in your throat as you did when your mouth was open, continuing to hear the “ocean” sound as you breathe through your nose.
  7. Concentrate on the sound of your breath; allow it to calm your mind. It should be audible to you, but not too loud.
  8. Let your inhalations fill your lungs to their fullest expansion. Completely release the air during your exhalations.

If you are practicing Ashtanga or Vinyasa Yoga,  you will maintain the connection of Ujjayi breath and asanas throughout your practice, releasing your Ujjayi breath when your practice is complete and you are in Corpse Pose (Savasana).


Nadi Shuddhi Pranayama or Anuloma – Viloma Alternate nostril breathing

Nadi Shuddhi is a fundamental form of pranayama that keeps a check on heart rate and makes the blood flow smoother. In addition to all these, it calms and focuses the mind. Increasing the oxygen flow into your body with as fewer breaths as possible is its main purpose.

  1. If you are a beginner in pranayama, you can sit in Sukhasana.
  2. Close your left nostril with the help of your left thumb and exhale the concerned breath fully through the right nostril.
  3. Inhale the air from the right nostril gently.
  4. Fill your lungs with as much air as you can before closing the right nostril by the center of your left hand or index finger.
  5. Next, exhale the air through the left nostril.
  6. The next step is to inhale through the left side and fill the lungs with maximum air.
  7. Close the left nostril to exhale the air through the right side.

Make sure, the breathing is wholesome and the air passage is full. It is best to perform this a minimum of ten times. You can do more if desired.

When I suffered from Gastroparesis, I was not allowed to take any pain killers. I had to learn how to breathe through the  pain. Sometimes, I forgot. Fortunately, my husband was by my side reminding me to return to the breath. I cannot tell you enough, how much this not only helped with the pain, but also with my sanity. Intense chronic pain is not only physically stressful, but also mentally and emotionally.

In conclusion:

When we are suffering from loss, we can just breathe.

When we are in physical pain, we can just breathe.

When we are mentally exhausted, we can just breathe.

When we are emotionally stressed, we can just breathe.

There is a breath for every circumstance in life. Just breathe.

Stay blissful my friends – E






8 limbs (2)

The third limb of Yoga comprises of the practice of Asana (or poses). Just as Christians, Yogic practitioners also view the body  as a temple of the spirit. Therefore, the care of which is an important stage of our spiritual growth as well as our physical growth. Asanas help us to develop discipline habits and the ability to concentrate. The practice of both is necessary for meditation.

Funny story: I have been practicing Yoga for some 8-9 years and it wasn’t until my husband gave me a book on Yoga that I came to realize the Sanskrit meaning of Asana is pose and that each Sanskrit word in regards to pose ends with asana! Ha! That one really did go over my head for years.

Abdominal Asanas such as Boat Pose (Navasana) and Half Boat Pose (Ardha Navasana) help to build core strength and stability, Improving Balance, Strengthening lower back over time, and developing sharper patience—Navasana is definitely one in which most people just want the pose to end. Patience indeed!

In addition, they are said to aid in digestion by raising the digestive fire. The naval center is known as the “third chakra”:

“The third chakra is called Manipura, which means “lustrous gem.” Located around the navel in the area of the solar plexus and up to the breastbone, it is a source of personal power and governs self-esteem, warrior energy, and the power of transformation. The Manipura chakra also controls metabolism and digestion.

When you feel self-confident, have a strong sense of purpose, and are self-motivated, your third chakra is open and healthy. If your third chakra is out of balance, you can suffer from low self-esteem, have difficulty making decisions, and may have anger or control issues. The element is fire and the color is yellow, bright like the sun.” [1]


Standing Poses – Tree Pose (Vrksasana) is good for strengthening thighs, calves, ankles, and spine. It stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders and relieves sciatica. Also known to give one an improved sense of balance.

Arm Balancing Asanas such as Crane or Crow Pose (Bakasana)
For building strength in both arm and core muscles, as well as helping sharpen your mental focus or Drishti.

Backbends – Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and Lord of the Dance Pose (Natarajasana)
Heart opening asanas increase flexibility and stimulate the nervous system. These poses are highly recommended in the Winter and when one is experiencing a broken heart. Many of us close our hearts as a defense mechanism after heartbreak. The antidote for this would a back bending asana.


Forward Bending Asanas like Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and Child’s Pose (Balasana) help you to create length and space in the spine as well as focusing your attention inward.

Inversions – Forearm Balance (Pincha Mayurasana) and Shoulderstand Pose (Salamba Sarvangasana) are two good examples. These poses are a great way to reinvigorate circulation. You will establish self-trust and experience a new perspective (Drishti) of the world around you.

Squatting – Garland Pose (Malasana) is another one of my favorite poses. This pose stretches the ankles, groins, and back torso as well as tones the belly.

Stretching Asanas -(Veerabhadrasana or Virabhadrasana) Used for stretching the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, groins (psoas). Strengthens the shoulders and arms, and the muscles of the back as well as the thighs, calves, and ankles. Improves balance in the body helps increase stamina.Highly beneficial for those with sedentary or deskbound jobs and those with frozen shoulders. Releases stress in the shoulders very effectively in a short span of time.Believed to bring on auspiciousness, courage, grace and peace.

Twisting Asanas – one of the most popular being Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana) energizes the spine and stimulates the digestive fire.

Sitting Asanas – such as Easy Pose (Sukhasana) will open your hips and lengthen your spine. Boosts your state of groundedness and inner calm. Intensifies serenity, tranquility, and eradicates anxiety. It also relieves physical and mental exhaustion and tiredness.

seated pose

Resting – Corpse Pose (Savasana) is probably everyone’s favorite pose! Good for connecting to your breath, stress relief, peace, and self-acceptance. Usually done at the end of each sequence, many people actually struggle with lying down, essentially doing nothing. But this pose is most important for completing and solidifying one’s practice.

With all this goodness, your temple is in pretty good shape! Stay Blissful my friends!




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.


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


The 8 Limbs of Yoga – Part 1 Yama

Hello there, my dear friends! For the next 8 Sundays, I will be sharing an 8-part series on the 8 Limbs of Yoga and how they apply to our daily mental, physical and spiritual lives. When one has an open mind, one is able to see the similarities and not the differences in religious and philosophical beliefs, bringing us closer to that Poetic Crossing and the Elysian Life.

8 limbs


Yama, being the first limb, is all about our ethical standards and sense of integrity, keeping focus on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. Yamas are considered universal practices that relate to what is best known as the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”.

There are Five yamas to consider and they are:

Ahimsa: Nonviolence

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will

– 2 Timothy 2:24-26

One of the biggest sources of violence toward others has to do with our differences in beliefs. Over the span of history, people have felt the need to assault those which whom they have disagreements. Religious wars continue to ensue to this very day. One would wonder how weary God is upon hearing another request for victory.

This is not just between countries. In our very own communities and even within each church. A classic example is this clip from Saved. Though many would consider this extreme, I do not. This movie brought to light some of the reality of growing up as a teenager in the modern day church.

“This is not a weapon!”, exclaims the lead character and she holds up a bible that has just been thrown at her.  John 13:35 says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” There is no disclaimer or loophole in this writing that says “unless you disagree with their form of worship or politics”.

When my dad was young, he went to live with his aunt in Los Angeles. This was when the Charismatic Movement had just come onto the scene. His aunt was involved in the movement. My father would experience kids throwing rocks at him, yelling “holy roller”! They would arrive home from church to find buckets of feces poured onto their porch. This was done to them, not by your average “non-believer”. These actions against my father and his family were carried out by other “Christians” who did not believe in “The Gifts of the Spirit”. My father refused to go to church ever again and began a  30+ year Heroin habit.

Ahimsa – nonviolence. Let’s try this. Let’s love one another regardless of our differences. Let us stop traumatizing young people who will feel said trauma for the rest of their lives.

Satya: Truthfulness

I am not sure there is any belief out there that doesn’t teach truthfulness. When we lie, we must continue to lie to cover the first lie. This is not sustainable. To live a simple, drama-free lifestyle, we cannot lie. Lying is just too complicated.

There are lies of commission and lies of omission. I  have done both in my life, especially during the years that I was drinking and drugging. I was an executive assistant to the president of an aerospace company, martial arts studio owner, church hospitality leader, and Sunday school teacher who drank and used cocaine regularly. Often, I would show up to church without having had any sleep. This was not sustainable.

Eventually, the truth would come out. Fortunately, this happened right as I was getting clean. After some time of being clean, I came clean to my church. I was embraced with love, understanding, and respect for being “real”. The other gift was watching as others began to open up about their addictions and shortcomings. Universal.

When you become truthful, it sets about a ripple effect of truthfulness in others. Of most importance, we must remain true to ourselves. The 12 Steps of Recovery, working with a sponsor and being part of a solid fellowship has been instrumental in helping me be true to myself and to others.

In Native American Culture, the owl represents wisdom, TRUTH, and patience.                       Photo by Cliff Johnson

Asteya: Nonstealing 

As with truthfulness, nonstealing is definitely taught across religions and philosophies. I am one who believes that any ill-gotten gain brings ill-gotten spirit into my household. I don’t want to be responsible for that.

Moreover, when I have worked for something, paid for it and brought it into my life, it has so much meaning to me. This might be due to the mindfulness spending I have been practicing lately. If I need it, if it is functional or brings beauty to my life, I will put it on a list. In a week, if I have the means, I will purchase it.

When I don’t have the means, I put it on a someday/maybe list.

Brahmacharya: Continence

Ah yes! Holding back. Self-control. I think as we age it gets easier to practice Continence. With experience and knowledge, we gain enough wisdom to know that whatever circumstance we are in, this too shall pass.

It is with that core understanding that we realize we don’t have to react immediately or emotionally. We don’t have to lash out, lie, steal, use drugs or drink over any situation. We can step back, breathe and turn it over to our higher power

One of my favorite moments in the book “Eat, Pray, Love”, is when Elizabeth Gilbert is praying in her closet. She is all emotional, wanting to get out of her marriage and unhappiness when she says she hears God speak to her for the very first time. God tells her “Go back to bed, Liz”.  Yes indeed, all was not going to be resolved at that moment, as a matter of fact, it would end up taking a lot longer than Elizabeth expected. But for Liz, this began a wonderous spiritual journey.

Aparigraha: Non-covetousness

Thou shalt not covet” – Exodus 20:17, King James Version

The act of coveting will most often bring on poor behavior. From sulking and being joyless, through attacking one’s character, all the way to violence.

In my first marriage, my husband and his ex-wife were constantly complaining each time one would obtain something the other did not have. I was a very young woman and did not totally understand what was going on with all this exclaiming of just how “unfair” it all was.

I actually started to act on this myself. Though I am a workaholic so I just set out to get raises and promotions to acquire what I wanted. But during this time in my life, I really didn’t like the person I  had become. Being comfortable in my own skin is the best feeling in the world to me and I know if I am to be covetous, that feeling would leave me immediately.

This covetous spirit was set free in me when my divorce took place. I didn’t have a lot of money but I felt I had everything I needed. Today, I could still fit all that I own in a very small truck.

Living these Yamas is another form of attaining bliss. Stay blissful my friends! – E