FIRST LIMB Yama (Self-Restraint)
The focus of the first limb is on being an ethical and moral person, and on improving your relationship with the outer world. These values are as important today as they were centuries ago. The Yamas, as they are referred to, are not meant to be a moral straitjacket, but instead are meant to help develop a greater awareness of one’s place in the world. It is not a coincidence that this is the first limb of the practice. When taking steps to transform our inner world, our outer world becomes a total reflection of this effort. There are five Yamas:
Non-violence Replace harmful thoughts, speech, and actions with that of loving kindness toward yourself and others.
Truth to be expressed in thought, word, and action Be honest in your thoughts, words, and actions toward yourself and others.
Non-stealing and non-covetousness Curb desires for things that are not your own. Share the beauty of your thoughts, speech, actions, and material belongings to uplift others instead of stealing and hoarding them for yourself.
Abstinence from sexual intercourse when not married, practicing monogamy and not having sexual thoughts about another person who is not your spouse It is believed that a life built on celibacy and spiritual studies done by free will increases energy and zest for life. Celibacy may sound like an unrealistic goal today, but it may help to remember that brahmacharya is also about monogamy. When brahmacharya is fully realized in marriage, the sex lives of both partners improve because the level of trust and devotion deepens their connection. It is important that the sexual activity is an expression based on the highest level of mutual respect, love, selflessness, and wisdom.
5. Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness or non-greediness:
Replace the habit of hoarding with sharing. Do not take without giving back. If you want something, work for it. This builds appreciation for what you have. This will help minimize the insatiable desire to constantly consume. An appetite that is not wisely disciplined leads to personal ill health, financial debt or poor credit, and destruction of the planet’s natural resources. The Greek god Apollo’s motto, “Nothing in excess. All things in moderation,” is a great way to describe aparigraha.