Global issues like poverty, inequality, climate change, consumerism and pollution can be quite daunting and depressing but nonetheless these issues are necessary to become aware of, acknowledge, and work to change. To tackle global problems, we must start at the individual level, starting where we are and in our own households.
Our everyday activities can reverberate throughout. Our vibrations, positive or negative, have an effect on those around us, on our families, friends, and communities. The experiment by Dr, Emoto comes to mind where he froze samples of water. The samples from springs and where rivers and lakes were pristine showed beautiful water crystals while the samples from tap water and from polluted rivers and streams near cities were fragmented. Also, beautiful crystals resulted from giving good words, playing good music and offering prayer to the water. This is emblematic of the effect that our words, thoughts and even vibrations have on others.
The yamas include ahimsa (non-harming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (remembering) and aparigraha (non-possessiveness). The nimayas include saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (sense training), svadhyaya (self-study), and ishvara pranidhana (surrender). These are basic tenets to live by and principles to follow. Just as we shouldn’t harm each other, we shouldn’t harm the earth or other species on living harmoniously with us. We should be honest and truthful in word and action. Not stealing from others or the Earth represented by the exploitation of natural resources. Recognising that we don’t own the Earth but the Earth owns us would be helpful in changing the present attitude of capitalism. Rather we should live in a way that’s pure, happy with our selves and with limited external necessities, in contentment and living a simple life.
Letting go of that which doesn’t serve us and recognising that we are in charge of our own contentment is a good start. Besides the basic necessities like shelter, food and water, other material goods may rather be a source of pain through unnecessary attachment. We should focus the senses and concentrate the mind through self-study and surrender. As pranayama and asana practice develops a strong body it also develops a strong mind. It’s healthy to adopt a yogic attitude and to not react to an extreme in either a positive or negative situation. To have a certain level of detachment from either is helpful as we ultimately don’t know if what appears as a curse is actually a blessing and vice versa. The yogic principles and attitude are key to living in harmony with each other and the earth.