Teacher training marked a period of deep revealing in my life. There is a quality of shedding that comes with intent study of the self and consistent practice. The endeavor is not free from uncomfortable revelations and, as Michael Hewett often reminds us, the breakdown is usually followed by the breakthrough. Continuing our presentation of the yogic yamas, our teachers-in-training share their personal realizations about asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya (right use of energy, especially sexual energy) and aparigraha (not grasping). Kristen, Montes and Reda offer their thoughts for your contemplation and meditation on the next three ethical restraints pivotal to living in yoga.
Allison Joy Phillips, Director of Yoga
Shared by Kristen Huff
When I first heard of this yama, I thought, “Easy. I don’t take things that don’t belong to me.” Then my teacher offered several, much more meaningful interpretations of asteya beyond simply not stealing. Aren’t I taking someone’s time when I am late? Aren’t I unfairly accepting someone’s trust when I make a promise that I don’t keep? Aren’t I robbing health, safety, and joy from my future self when I don’t take care of myself today? Aren’t I denying myself endless experiences - maybe even a taste of bliss - when I limit what is possible through fear, or through my habitual response? As we contemplate all the different ways we can practice asteya we find there is great depth to this yama.
Shared by Montes
When I first encountered the yamas, I thought, "Oh, here we go again! Another set of rules and way of controlling my life." But I now see the yamas as a more compassionate way of interacting with ourselves and with our communities. I feel attracted to the idea that the yamas allow energy maintenance. Learning about brahmacharya, I realized that impulsivity and excess has created patterns, really vicious habits that affect the way I perceive and experience life. I want to be clear and at ease energetically. I want to have more compassion with myself in order to be more perceptive of the meaningful and important moments in my life at home, with family and friends, especially by building healthier boundaries at work and with strangers. I definitely see a shift in my way of thinking and interacting with others. I notice that I enjoy keeping certain things private about myself. I find I have been more patient with myself and more in tune with my partner. I negotiate first with myself about my own priorities, instead of trying to only negotiate with the consequences of weak or ignorant behavior.
Shared by Reda Charafeddine
I’m a grasper. I love a good ol’ choke hold, not so much on things, more for ideas and principles. I am possessed by the demon of humanity’s conduct. I am checking on the idea that I am living in a society that is delusional. 7.6 billion people and growing creates a deep disdain for breeders and children. We hate everyone we don’t understand, then I hate those who hate. Cult-worshiping of celebrities and media…I just shut it off. Which isn’t such a bad thing.
I’m so attached to the idea that we need to change that I become vengeful. I want to see it all burn just so we get a chance to build again. However, I don’t think we would get it right the next time. This leads me to a spiral of nihilism. I become a tyrant because of my greed for change. I’m learning to loosen my grip enough so I’m not debilitated by attachment but not so much that I become complacent.