Ahimsa – ‘Non-Violence’
Satya – ‘Truthfulness’
Asteya – ‘Non-Stealing’
Brahmacharya – ‘Right use of energy’
Aparigraha – ‘Non-Hoarding’
The last five days we have been exploring the Yamas as part of our Balanced Planet Yoga Instagram challenge – #BPYMindBodyChallenge. We have been able to just provide a drop in the bucket of what understanding and making these precepts a part of your daily living can do. The Yamas and their counterpart the Niyamas are a framework for living.
You may have noticed how these first five Yamas are so interrelated. One of the questions that I have explored involves Ahimsa and Satya or non-violence and truth. In teacher training, I had asked, “what if telling someone the truth hurts them?”. We can all think of that situation, right? You find out your best friend’s husband is cheating on them or you don’t really like the meatloaf your spouse makes once a week for dinner. Big things or little things, sometimes telling the truth is hurtful. And even if we believe deep down that we are doing the right thing by pointing out the truth, we cannot escape the fact that we are still creating damage. One of the best ways to check yourself before you decide to speak is to be sure what your motivation is behind the telling. Are you looking to feel superior? Are you in fact trying to inflict pain?
Just to blur the lines a little bit more, we can consider a quote from the great Indian epic the Mahabarata, which states “Speak the truth which is pleasant. Do not speak the unpleasant truths. Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing the ear.” So, if the truth is a happy one tell it, if it is an unhappy one keep it to yourself, but scratch all of that if it causes you to lie. Hmmm…that is a pretty tough check list, but not impossible if we learn to take our time.
Many people, including myself, struggle with allowing our mouths to move before our brains or hearts catch up – much to our own detriment in ruined relationships and missed opportunities. How can we get better at navigating what is required of us between Ahimsa and Satya? Since we are yogis, we can’t start by trying to work these things out on our mat.
When we come to class our first thought should be, whatever is to be, we should start with the idea that we will not do anything that is going to hurt us. If you are having a day where the body is not feeling it, you will make your practice therapeutic. Remember, this doesn’t mean we don’t work to our fullest because we also “hurt” ourselves by not living up to our fullest potential. Boy, this stuff is tough. So we are going for our fullest expression of Warrior II, nothing hurts, so where does the truth come in? Well, we need to ask ourselves, am I really in my fullest expression of warrior II? Am I fully present in this moment or am I off planning tomorrow night’s dinner party? We check where our motivation level is in the posture. What is our mind saying?
We see “Love is the Answer” on t-shirts, sung about in songs, and preached by many famous people. It’s a popular mantra in our modern day culture and one that I wish more and more people would embrace! If we understand and believe that love comes first, then when we speak the “truth”, we cannot do that at the expense of ourselves or others. The journey becomes that we have to do the hard work of figuring out what the cost is in each situation for telling the truth. We have to create enough time between what comes out of our mouth has been scrutinized using the concepts of Ahimsa and Satya first. Perhaps, checking our motivation for telling the truth might just be the best place to start. Let us know what you think!