Class Notes, Week 13: The yamas + the boomerang effect

The Moksha yoga teacher training program requires me to journal once each week about my experience with the poses and assignments + my practice and progress. This is part of that weekly assignment.

I spent this past week trying to remain aware of the five yamas, or “great commandments” of yoga: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brachmacharya (self-restraint) and aparigraha (non-hoarding).

Each day, I focused on a specific yama by re-reading its meaning in “Light on Yoga.”  Then, I did my best to put it into practice throughout the day. 

Some days were “better” than others.

When awareness was in full bloom, I was happier. The world around me was beautiful and harmonious.  Things happened with a graceful fluidity — or perhaps it all just appeared that way because I was in such an open state of mind.  When the shadows of these yamas loomed larger than my yogi awareness, I felt not-so-great.  My psyche was aggravated, and those around me were undeniably affected as a result.  I knew this, even as I was swimming against the current of that particular yama.  Unfortunately, this week — with the exception of work scenarios — my weaker emotions often prevailed.   I accept my flaws, even as I work to improve upon them.

In the end, the lesson learned is something that I already instinctively knew: It just feels better to be a compassionate soul than a nasty bitch.  And, that compassionate state benefits everyone and everything I touch.  We’re all interconnected through the vibrations and intentions we toss out into the world — good, bad and everything in between.

Plus, the positive vibes thrown into the world can serve as a boomerang, which come back to serve you.  This I truly believe, without any tangible “evidence.”  Take today for instance: I am traveling through a part of Europe foreign to me and my English-speaking tongue — and with my mother, who is handicapped, cannot speak (due to post-stroke aphasia) and packed half of her massive wardrobe into a gigantic blue suitcase.  It’s been incredibly stressful trying to navigate transportation from Munich to Passau with all of this baggage, literally and figuratively.  I’m doing my best to stay true to tempering non-violence of thought and action when her inability to assist (through no fault of her own) rattles me. 

But three angels or Good Samaritans or whatever you wish to call them appeared along today’s journey.  A friendly bellhop who walked us a block to the train station with our luggage.  A sweet German woman who helped us through a train hiccup.  A helpful Floridian who carried some of our heavy baggage when we arrived in Passau.  It was a beautiful study in the kindness of strangers — how good it feels to be on that receiving end, and a reminder to spead the love on the giving end.  I believe it’s cyclical.  Akin to karma. 

I call it a yama boomerang: I practice the loving compassion that springs from the five yamas, and it will be bestowed upon me in time.  I shouldn’t seek this “reward”: instead, just know that my positive actions will result in more positive actions.

What can be misconstrued with an eye roll as “hippie-kumbaya-mumbo-jumbo” has tremendous merit.  Take it from this obsessive intellectual who straddles Western and Eastern philosophies.

P.S.  I’ve been practicing a great deal of restraint and aparigraha at these European Christmas markets!  When someTHING catches my eye, I ask myself, “Do I want it?  Or need it?”

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