Part of what I love about yoga is studying the multitude of ways it can provide guidance in our lives with its eight "limbs" or "faceted paths." This week, we head back to the first limb of yoga, the Yamas.
Satya is the second Yama, and it calls to mind "Truthfulness". It urges us to live and speak our truth at all times. It is the second of the Five Yamas. Last week, we covered the first Yama, Ahimsa, or "Do No Harm."
You can see how Satya might conflict with Ahimsa, right? Doing no harm sometimes seems to be in direct conflict with walking the path of truthfulness. Sad but true. Case in point: "How does this look on me?" When I ask my husband that question about an outfit that I already feel iffy about, I can almost see his Ahimsa and his Satya colliding with each other. Why do I do that to him?
Anyway, that's why there is an order to the Yamas. It is important to work on Ahimsa thoroughly and to feel confident in our ability to embrace it before we delve into the deeper waters of complete honesty with Satya.
Walking the path of truthfulness is difficult. And, really, sometimes maybe we don't even want to do it, because it holds us more accountable than we might want to be. If we force ourselves to find truth, to dig for it, we might have to make some hard decisions. Looking Truth directly in the eye might make life uncomfortable. It is easier and takes less effort to allow ourselves to simply close our minds and choose what we already want to believe in the first place. Then we can proceed in the direction that makes us more comfortable or puts us in agreement with our friends, and we can lull ourselves into thinking that we really did find truth in order to get on with our lives as they always were to begin with anyway.
Satya makes that scenario impossible. It forces us to constantly reevaluate our beliefs. It prohibits making decisions simply based on the way we've always made them in the past. It makes the world around us relevant and acknowledges that we do not live in isolation of that world but as a part of it. Living our truth involves considering the rights and beliefs of others who share our family, our community, our country, our world.
The Yamas stand united to force a mirror before us, and they make us constantly answer some hard questions. "Is this who you want to be?" "Is this your best self that the world needs you to be?" And for everyone, the answers will be different. And for each of us, different times and challenges in our lives will produce different answers.
Yoga makes us see our truth, especially in balance poses. If you suspect that you are trying to fool yourself about something, yoga will confirm if you indeed are doing just that. It is as if the inner turmoil of truth seeking (or "Truthiness"......Shout out to Stephen Colbert) becomes more of a rolling boil inside of us if we try to either force it or ignore it. Half Moon Pose is one that I like to use to "check in" with myself to see how I'm doing. Sometimes, I can't even properly attempt it without losing my balance. When that happens, I know that I'm trying to work out something.........some struggle with myself. Or I'm just feeling so much stress over an issue. Other times though, there is no problem, and I feel the balance solidly holding me in the pose. Those are the times that I also feel calm and balanced on the inside. Coincidence? I think not.
So, what are our options when the inner turmoil is boiling within us? I say search for answers in every nook and cranny. Make it your job. Then EMBRACE the turmoil. Accept the fact that you are dealing with a Satya crisis, and then let it be for awhile. Let all that information drift around inside of you until it settles. Do Not Attempt To Force It Away And Do Not Dwell On It. Practice your pose. Do your breathing exercises. Meditate. Have an ice cream cone. Watch a movie. Go for a run. Hug your people and your dog. Allow the crisis to ebb and flow as you do your best to live life with intentions toward Ahimsa and Satya. Eventually, through your patience and self-honesty the truth will present itself to you. When that happens, acknowledge it. And then go and live that truth. That is Satya.
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