by Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya
MPH MD (Family Medicine)
PhD (Ayurveda ‑ BHU)
Once you have tussled with what Truth is, it will begin to emerge everywhere. Your mind will sense when something is true and when it is not, seemingly useless in the world today when so much around us is scam, speculation, and sinister. People are taught to expend a lot of strategy in building illusions. Economists invent the supply-demand illusion. Labor experts remind us how much more we should work. Marketing gurus invent our phantom needs so that we buy more items. They ardently defend the art of creating a customer base simply for exploiting them. Theaters make us believe we have to see the movie on opening night at 3X the price. Doctors remind us how sick we can become. Stockbrokers remind us how much we should invest, while they buy and sell to offset our decisions. Psychology and marketing have combined in the past 80 years to make us slaves, simply because we have unaligned ourselves with Truth. We are willing to play their game.
To understand your mind and Truth, spend time learning the yamas of yoga. Read about the ancient practices of ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha. Then choose which you want to sharpen first. Each will develop powers of your mind, at any age.
Ahimsa is the commitment to kindness, compassion and connection by not engaging in violence of speech, thought, action or intention. Non-violence is a very conscious decision today, as our entertainment and news showcase violence, and most common people focus on the competition and selfishness that promotes pushing others aside. If we are purposefully kind, and we take time to engage in kindness from our hearts, it heals the world immediately around us. Bitter and resentful curmudgeons will scoff at the notion of random acts of kindness and ask for scientific evidence. It is there. Kind acts create happiness in a way that is not fully understood. Connection with the world around us sounds good. The neuroscience links happiness to deep feelings of fulfillment and lights up the parts of the brain that integrate emotions, self-worth, and balance of the sensory and motor systems. Imagine that you will think clearer and move your body better if you just decide that you will be kind in every circumstance, both to yourself and to others!
Satya is the commitment to truth as the ultimate anchor of ourselves. Watch where you embellish what really happened, where you lie to avoid something or someone. Choose silence. Your conscience knows what is wrong and right. Use it to count how many times you are not in the space of truth. Then choose how you can simplify your life by either choosing truth or choosing silence. Confrontations will dissipate when you discern and choose not to participate in lies. Your social world will change. And you will notice when those ads are lying to you. No, you do not need to buy the 2021 model of that car, or the new gadget that the ads claim everyone has.
Asteya is the conscious decision not to take anything that is not given by another person. If you find an item on the ground, pick it up and put it on a higher surface, but do not keep it. Do not take food unless someone gives it to you or you buy it or you ask before helping yourself. Bring your consciousness toward awareness of what actually belongs to you. Do not exploit the kindness of others. Refrain from taking free items and hoarding them. Receive them and give them to the other person. Make a habit of giving away what others need that you do not need. It will simplify your life and open your heart.
The term brahmacharya has tolerated complete distortion by people in the west with unresolved sexual issues. Mistranslated as celibacy, brahmacharya means moving toward the creator through conscious, deeply-fulfilling intimate relationships filled with integrity. These are relations of desire to give contentment and pleasure to another without getting caught up and addicted to the senses of pleasure. The focus is on living with relationships where we discriminate what is good and what is bad for us by learning to control our senses. If you calculate the time you spend with your intimate partner everyday in sexual intimacy, you will likely calculate a single-digit percentage. In contrast, calculate the time you spend in intimate, close loving activities like cooking together, hiking, doing chores or projects together. If we invest in these relationships and spend more time in deeply connected relationships of emotional, intellectual, and mental common bonds, we can achieve brahmacharya. There is a saying that I see the divine in you, that pleasure of deep connection. That saying is Namaste.
Aparigraha is essentially what is now called the minimalist movement. It is a keen awareness that the more we own, the more time we need to take to care for it. Aparigraha is not owning nothing. It is owning and using everything we own joyfully and purposefully. Non hoarding saves us more time by allowing energies to flow toward us without unuseful belongings getting in the way. It also saves money, energy of clean up, and awareness for other things in our lives. You cannot see your bicycle when there are 96 jumbo rolls of toilet paper parked in front of it.
After you consider these yamas, the functions of your amazing brain and power of your mind turn on in a different way. In a new moment, you will learn to reframe any past events as lessons, stay in the present by becoming more perceptive. Look around you and appreciate the things you see around you, the colors, the items, the luxuries, and the tools that allow you to do all the things you do daily.
If you begin to daydream, bring yourself back to the present. This is especially important if you are prone to panic attacks or anxiety. Start looking around you and occupy yourself in projects in your present world. Losing yourself and your sense of time in projects you love is a key to healing. It promotes the mind to let go of the past. When you are in the now moment of the present, the opportunities that the Universe is trying to present to you will come forth.
The South Asian Times
Columnist Dr. Bhaswati
Bhattacharya is a Fulbright
Specialist 2018‐2022 in Public
Health and Clinical Asst
Professor of Medicine, Weill
Cornell Medical College,
New York. Her bestselling
book Everyday Ayurveda is
published by Penguin