Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Universal Principles of Yoga: The Yama Satya

I recently started a yoga teacher training and we had an assignment to choose one of the Five Universal Principles of Yoga, the Yamas, to research and talk about at our next training weekend.  You can find a link to all five of them here, but I chose the second Yoga Yama, Satya - which many of you may know is also my father's first name!

I chose the Yoga Yama Satya because for many of the early years of my life I struggled with being truthful to myself and to others.  As a young child and adolescent, I found myself lying in order to avoid conflict or admitting mistakes (something I saw modeled in my early life).  I also just didn’t have any healthy tools for expressing negative emotions and thoughts or when I was angered by a friend.  My technique was to stuff it all in until I either exploded at someone or literally walked away from the friendship. This happened far more often than I would like to admit.  I was extremely unskillful in the Yama Satya, truthfulness also referred to as Loving Speech.  I saw a video on another blog that said that The Yama Satya must be paired with the first Yoga Yama, Ahimsa - Non-violence/compassion - so that our truthfulness (Satya) embodies compassion (Ahimsa) and therefore does not cause and pain or hurt in those receiving it.

I can remember friends asking me if something was the matter, if I was upset and the truthful answer was “Yes, my feeling are hurt!” But I always answered, “No, I’m fine.” To this day, my instinct is to answer with the same denial, but the strength of the Yama Satya is so much stronger in me now and I know it is my duty to be truthful to prevent future explosions of anger.

It wasn’t until my twenties that I started peeling away my lack of the Yama Satya and started to attempt to live by it.  Of course at the time I didn’t know that the truthfulness I was trying to live by was part of the Yoga Universal Principles, I just wanted to live with integrity and take responsibility for my thoughts, words and actions.  I had become aware of how I’d hurt people in the past and how I’d been hurt by non-truthfulness so I vowed to do my absolute best to be honest with myself and share my truth with those around me in the most mindful, loving, ahimsa way possible.

Below is a not-all-inclusive list/outline of the different aspect of how I see the Yama Satya being embodied and engaged by each of us. You may see future posts going into more detail of these, but here is my outline sketched for my assignment!

  • Personal Internal truth
    • Being honest with ourself in terms of boundaries, limitations, life path, life goals, energy, ability, skill, etc...
    • Acknowledge our thoughts and see where there is truth and where there isn’t and do our best to change our habitual non-truthful thoughts
  • Truth in Observation
    • Being mindful and truly present in each moment to sharpen our sense of observation so that we may see the truth of our own reality and that of those around us
    • Engaging in Mindful Interactive Truth (see below) with others when we observe a truth that may not be apparent to the other.  This involves the first Yoga Yama, ahimsa (non-violence/compassion) so that we can communicate any negative information or observation as truthfully and compassionately as possible.
  • Interactive Truth
    • Being mindful of the words we choose when speaking with others.
      • Before you speak, ask yourself these 3 questions:
        • Is what I am about to say the truth?
        • Is it necessary?
        • Will it cause harm?
    • Allowing the others involved in our Interactive Truth time to hear, process and respond to our Interactive Truth.
    • Respecting when others do not like the truth we have shared with them and honoring their feelings.
  • Multiple Truths/Accepting Other’s Truths
    • There are an infinite number of paths for each of us to follow, we each have our own karmic lessons we must learn so that we may deepen our personal truths and transform ourselves in the perfect way we are supposed to in this life.  So long as our truth/path is not hurting another person or group of people and we are aware of how we affect each other and the world and that our truth is for the ultimate highest good, then we should allow ourselves and others to follow our own truth, even if we don’t like some of them.
  • Higher Power Truth
    • This follows up with the Multiple Truths idea as it relates to God, The Divine, The Creator, The Universe, Religion, Spirituality, etc.  Everyone has a choice for which, if any, path they choose to follow!

Breathe. Smile. Be Truthful. Be Mindful. Love!

The picture for this post is from Simon Howden's portfolio on Free Digital Photos.

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