How to transform using niyama

Post By: Published on: November 27, 2016 Reading time: 5 minutes

How can we integrate our personality using niyama (self-control).

Śaucam is hygiene.

External hygiene (bāhira-śaucam)we are reasonably aware and follow the basic rules of hygiene such as brushing, bathing etc. However, our attitude to food hygiene is more important, sensitive and difficult to control.

We often eat from the same plate, share the same food item or mix cooking and eating utensils. But this can be dangerous because it enables the transmission of contagious virus through sharing of liquids and food. Therefore, a good habit would be avoiding sharing food with others and keeping separate cooking and eating utensils.

In fact, a restaurant law in the US stipulates that food taken out of a buffet cannot be put back, even if it is from a fresh plate. The food taken must be destroyed. This is to avoid propagation of virus and germs.

Internal hygiene (āntara-śaucam) is a process that we use to reduce the impact of stress.

All stimuli result in stress, either eustress which motivates or distress which induces a fight or flight response. Unfortunately, during the situation anxiety and fear increases. This needs to be purged. One way is exercise, but if that is not available as an option, then one needs to use auto-suggestive techniques to calm down and regain clarity of thinking.

This can be split into 3 elements –

  • Physical – where auto-suggestive relaxation techniques is used to calm the muscles;
  • Emotional – where breathing is used to calm frayed emotions;
  • Intellectual – where rationalization is used to generate alternatives and bring back balance.

Santoṣam (contentment) is actually expectation management.

We always approach life and situation with certain expectations. Consequently, this makes it difficult for us to accept outcomes which are not in alignment with these expectations. So, our ability to tone our expectations to more realistic outcomes or accept the outcome presented to us ensures greater peace and harmony.

However, this does not mean that we must sacrifice our ambition. In fact, it means being able to reduce resistance to tactical outcomes and refocus on the goal. This gives us a feeling of achievement and contentment. Sometimes, it may mean recalibration of goals and expectations or acceptance that certain goals cannot be reached or accepting the solution available, which is expectation management.

Svādhyāyam (self-learning).

In a changing world, developing new skills is the price of staying ahead. Consequently, this means continuous studying or getting exposed to new products, practices or technologies. While we willingly do this for material gain or ambition, we often sacrifice efforts required to comprehend our internal decision-making process, conditioning and Self.

This is done using 2 tools mimāmsa or introspection which is the process of reflecting on the impact of stimulus on our sense of identity and conditioning. Importantly for change to be initiated, acceptance or svikruta, which is acceptance of current state, and its impact on our conditioning and identity is required.

Tapas (austerity).

Once we have decided on self-transformation, making the actual change requires sacrifice. Sacrifice is the ability to be hard on ourselves, even in unpleasant circumstances and force change.

Some changes are easy, but those which are ingrained deep in our psyche as conditioning or as part of our identity are very difficult to implement. Also, we expect that just because we have changed, others should appreciate our effort and change with us. But this doesn’t happen either. Consequently, we get frustrated.

Therefore, our ability to seek the anchor within ourselves, be hard on the change that we think we need to do, stay committed to the course of change and make the necessary sacrifice is tapas (austerity).

Śraddhā (dedication).

Śraddhā is the ability to complete a chosen task to the best of one’s ability. Actually, śraddhā is a mix of sincerity, focus, patience, drive for results, passion and willingness to change solution-set to complete the task. Often, this may mean working with severe constraints, failure and frustration, no help, maybe adverse conditions, no recognition or resources, including money.


Charity or Daanam

Dānam (charity).

Dānam is the ability to give. Importantly, when we give, we free ourselves of baggage. Initially, we mostly give things we do not need. Later, as we mature and overcome our insecurities, we give stuff which has value. Finally, we give away articles which are associated with precious incidents, memories and are even costly.

Points to Ponder on transformation.

Internal Tags: Karma, Dharma (conditioning)Stress and Situational AwarenessStress and pranaAwareness measures, Bhakti Yoga fundamentals, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.

External Tags: Consciousness

Final words.

Our journey undergoes a metamorphosis from the expression of our identity to altruism and finally to a point where there is no judgement or expectation of return.

The journey is one of purging ourselves of baggage, from the obvious to the subtle.

Finally, all internal transformation and self-control (niyama) need consistent effort and often transformation comes after years of practice, introspection and sustained effort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *