As we careen toward the end of the year, it is in our nature to look back on the year gone by to assess ourselves and our lives before start of another. We see the opportunity of a new start and we often create intentions, make plans and set goals around what we want to do. But, what about who we want to be?
Last week, we began to explore ethical teachings that can help us to create habits working toward who we want to be in the coming year. As we live into these teachings, we can more easily respond to what is happening in our lives rather than reacting to it. We can feel good about our interactions with ourselves and with others. We can experience more peace and fulfullment in our relationships. And we can be better at all of the things we want to do. Check out last week’s post here to catch up on the first five ethical teachings.
Today, we explore five more ethical teachings to continue with the momentum built from the practice of the first five. These teachings will aid in the discovery of more ease in our lives and will help us to reshape how we experience day to day living. Just like the first five teachings, these too are easy to understand, but can be difficult to live into. These teachings also take practice and consistency.
The first teaching for this week is all about purification on both an external and an internal level. When we can purify our environment and our bodies, we can experience more ease and health, free from the distraction of excess pain, illness and clutter. Our external environment has an effect on our internal environment and working from the outside in can lead to more peace of mind. When we work to purify our thoughts and our speech, we can find more clarity in our relationships with ourselves and with others, free from the toxicity of comparison, judgment and expectations. When we are living with the intention of purifying the external and the internal environments, we can experience more clarity and purity in our relationship with every moment and everyone we are in contact with, including ourselves. With this teaching we are creating space for grace.
The second teaching is all about contentment with what is. Contentment does not mean that we are excited or even in agreement with what is happening in the moment, but it does mean that we are acknowledging what is happening and accepting that this is indeed the reality of where we are in this moment. This teaching of contentment is about accepting what already is rather than fighting against it and making things harder on ourselves. We so often live our lives fighting against what we are experiencing because it is not what we planned for, envisioned or thought we wanted. We keep ourselves in suffering by wishing things were different or feeling angry that they are not, and we fail to recognize that we are actually OK in this moment. Contentment creates the freedom of being able to move forward from where we are as we accept that this moment could not be any different, for it already IS.
The third teaching is about our determination to continue on the path of becoming who we really want to be even when the journey is difficult. This teaching is about getting back up after being knocked down by life and looking for the ways that challenges force us to grow. This is the self-discipline to make the choices day after day after day that take us toward our goals, and not giving up even when things seem to all fall apart. This teaching asks us to hold on, to look for the blessing that will come along with the scars of hard times, and to remember that we hold no agreement with the universer that our lives would be free from difficulty. This practice creates resilience as we consider that it may, in fact, be the difficulties we face that can show us the depth of our strength.
The next teaching is about looking inward to remember who we really are. We often get caught up in identifying ourselves as the job that we do for a living or even as what we have succeeded at in life. Or we may identify ourselves as our failures, focusing our energy on what we have missed out on. Sometimes, we identify ourselves as our current life role- parent, partner, sibling, etc. And we can even identify ourselves as a medical or psychiatric diagnosis or emotional experience. However, all of these things are what we are living through in our journey of life. We are not our experiences, rather we are the one experiencing. This teaching is about the practice of seeing beyond our accomplishments and failures, our roles and jobs, our present and our past to the fact that we are all spirits living inside bodies on this journey of life. This practice creates connection to ourselves and everyone around us.
The final teaching is about surrendering to the flow of life and recognizing that we are not in control. This teaching asks us to recognize that life knows better what to do than we do and that there is some greater force at work in our lives. Perhaps we trust our higher power or the universe or the balance of good and evil, but this teaching is about letting go of our attempt to control a world that is almost entirely out of our control. We can find much more ease in our lives when we take our hands off of the wheel and practice going with the flow. We can step out of feeling cheated, resentful, and angry because life didn’t do what we wanted it to and find peace in accepting that whether we attempt to control the uncontrollable or not, life will keep right on going. This practice creates trust and ease.
Let’s explore who we really want to be in the coming year. The pain of staying stuck is far more maddening than the pain of change. We have the power to shape our minds, bodies and lives to become who we choose to be. And as we do that, one person at a time, we will change the world we live in.
I will be practicing right along with you.
Chat again soon,
To learn more about these teachings, check out Deborah Adele’s book The Yamas and Niyamas.