Tuesday, October 15, 2013


One of my pieces of homework for the month is to pick a yama to focus on, then journal about it. The assignment is proving more difficult than I first imagined.

To explain, the yamas are one of the eight branches of Yogic philosophy. Translated as "restraints" or "bridles," the yamas are five principles that guide us to live in harmony with others. They include gentleness (ahimsa), truthfulness (satya), abundance/non-stealing (asteya), moderation (brahmacharya), and simplicity/non-attachment (aparigraha). As with other life principles, they each have layers of meaning. For example, asteya, or non-stealing, doesn't just mean don't shoplift. It also means don't rob others of their experiences or their words. To an impatient spotlight-lover like myself, it's hard not to finish other people's sentences.

The difficulty I'm having is in picking just one to work on. I mean, the month is half over and I've not started journaling about any of these yet. I'm not indecisive, it's just that in the past two weeks, ALL of these have seemed hard to me. Every day seems to bring a new challenge with my latest job transition, meaning that I've often not had the energy to even be nice to others, much less to focus on being particularly harmonious. Incredibly obvious here is that when the yamas are hardest to practice is probably when you need them the most. And indeed, I'm pretty sure that journaling, meditating, or even just focusing on one of these principles on a daily basis would help me get out of my own head and fuel myself with some positive interaction.

I can at least narrow it down to three, and hopefully make a decision from there. My top contenders are:

  • gentleness (which would include having only kind thoughts toward myself when I don't get my homework done, toward other drivers when they don't use turn signals, and toward the bagger at the grocery store who can't keep cold stuff all together)
  • non-stealing (which would include not robbing my partner of his down time, and not being envious of people who have houses and dogs and their shit together in general)
  • simplicity and non-attachment (which would include valuing memories over souvenirs or heirlooms, and remembering that an extra object, no matter its function, will not make me happier. The story of how I struggled with our exercise in aparigraha during the first weekend is yet to come)
By the end of the day, I'll have my first entry written. 


  1. I vote gentleness. But this is a selfish vote because I want to see if someone else can master this yama, as I fail miserably.

    1. Funny you should say that, as I made just that decision (before I had a chance to read your comment, too!) Great minds think alike :-)