During April, we focused our attention on the first of the yamas (yogic principles) ahimsa or non-violence. As we move into May we'll be focusing on the second yama; satya.
Satya is translated as 'truth'. It should be practiced alongside the the first yama of non violence, so that we do not use the truth in ways that cause other people harm.
There are many ways that truth can be explored both in our yoga practice and in daily life, the most obvious being not to lie to people. However, if you dig into the idea of practicing satya it becomes apparent that there is a lot more to this subject than meets the eye.
Do you consider yourself to be a truthful person? Have you ever told someone you liked their new hair cut even though you didn't? Do you keep your word and arrive for meetings/appointments/meals on time? Have you ever fibbed to a child to get them to behave? Have you ever embellished or exaggerated a story to make it more exciting or to make yourself seem more heroic, clever or interesting? Have you ever denied doing something so you wouldn't get into trouble? Do you edit and filter photos of yourself before putting them online? Is your social networking profile a truthful reflection of the who you are?
Discussions around satya often spiral into the questions of whether then we should be truthful and tell our boss that they drive us crazy, or what to do if your wife/girlfriend/friend/husband puts on something unflattering and asks for your opinion. Do we need to open up the books of our lives for all to see? These discussions happen often and are the shield our ego puts up to try and prove that the truth isn't good. This is the ego's last defense because it doesn't want to admit how often we are untruthful, and how often we turn to lies whether big or small for an easy way out, to boost self-image or to be accepted/fit-in.
In 'Light on Life' B.K.S Iyengar answers these arguments by reminding us that we must be skillful and wise in our practice. 'We should not use the truth as a club with which to beat other people…. Truth has got to be tempered with social grace. We are all guilty of complimenting someone on a new dress or sari because they are so obviously proud of it. Maybe if we had reached absolute truth we would not do that, but in a relative world, of which we are imperfect observers, we occasionally make concessions.'
When I read this section of Iyengar's book, I found it refreshing to hear him concede that in the modern day practice of yoga, being nothing but truthful could potentially do more himsa/harm than good in some situations and therefore a more skillful response could be appropriate. 'Truth is not a weapon to be abused, and the sword of truth has two edges so be careful'. He acknowledges that at each stage of our lives we may not be perfect, but we should always do our best in the practice of each of the yamas.
During the next 4 weeks we'll be exploring the practice of truth. We'll be referring to the book 'the four agreements' during this time as I believe the 4 agreements tie closely to the practice of satya. Check back daily for blog posts, inspiration and journal prompts.
If you are embracing the practice of compassion and gratitude this week and wish to continue over the next weeks and months, white howlite jewelry is the perfect addition to your practice.
White howlite is a calming stone of wisdom and insight. It calms an overactive mind, reduces stress, encourages patience, and calms turbulent emotions. It helps the wearer to let go of anger, selfishness and criticism, and develop a positive outlook on life. It promotes kindness, compassionate behavior, and peaceful coexistence.
White howlite (gloss or matte finish) is available in our online store and studio as a knotted meditation necklace, wrist mala, and in single bracelets and leather wraps. If your size or style is not available, please contact me; I will be happy to make one for you! Gemstone jewelry is a perfect gift, presented in a hand made bag with a description of the gemstones metaphysical properties.
Gratitude is a great way to respond to the little things that can unsettle our minds!
Our second mantra this week is one to cultivate gratitude.
The more you practice, the more naturally your mind finds the good in situations rather than dwelling in negative, violent or self defeating thought patterns.
Our journal questions this week are focused on the practice of gratitude and compassion. Practice ahimsa by finding a few quiet moments in your day for reflection and connection to your inner wisdom. Don't edit as you answer the questions but rather write freely without judgment.
What does being compassionate in your daily life mean to you? How can you be more compassionate towards yourself? Are there any people or situations that you could approach with more compassion?
Write about a time when your day has been improved by compassionate or kind behavior either by you to someone else, or when someone was kind and compassionate to you.
How do you show compassion and understanding to your friends?
How many of those compassionate acts could you practice to yourself?
Write a list of the day’s accomplishments and victories, no matter how small. Celebrate each one individually.
This week’s first affirmation is to encourage the daily practice of compassion.
Repeat this often to inspire you to replace violent thoughts and actions with ones of peace, understanding and compassion
Gratitude is a beautiful counter to the negativity and harmful thoughts that can run wild in our minds!
Next time you're stuck in, for example, a grocery store queue and you find yourself tapping your foot, sighing, and silently cursing the people in front of you for being so slow, notice how this affects you both physically and mentally.
Who is benefitting from this internal violence? Who is harmed by this internal dialogue?
Practice ahimsa by taking this time to reset and find something in that moment that you can be grateful for, whether that's a few moments of peace and quiet to plan the rest of your day, or that we're lucky enough to have amazing stores that offer us foods from all over the world and convenience beyond what some people can imagine.
Meet the violent internal dialogue of impatience and anger with gratitude, and notice the weight lift from your shoulders as you step into the practice of ahimsa.
We often find ourselves getting angry at ourselves or others and as a result we sometimes experience violence in our thoughts and actions.
It's possible overcome some of this irritation in life, and the associated violence, by practicing compassion.
We're often quick to judge and get angry at someone that cut us off in traffic but (assuming there is no accident) who is harmed by the tirade of thoughts that go through our minds? The other driver certainly isn't aware or affected by them, but we arrive at our destination angry and frustrated, and carry that energy into the meeting, meal or home that we were travelling to, affecting not only ourselves but everybody we meet for the rest of the day. We replay the event as we tell others about it, bringing up the feelings and sensations of anger over and over again.
We do not know other peoples stories (even if we think we do). Their actions almost certainly were not a deliberate attack, but why do we act as if it's personal? What if that driver was rushing to be with a family member at a difficult time? What if they had spent the hours before caring for their child and had ended up being late and having to rush because they read just one more story to their favorite person? What if their thoughts were elsewhere because they were worried about a good friend or they were anxious about an upcoming interview? What if they were lost? What if it was simply an error in judgment? (What if they were just a inconsiderate person or bad driver?!)
What if we met the event with compassion?
When someone unknowingly pushes your buttons and the tirade of internal (or external) commentary begins, see if you can meet the moment with compassion and understanding.
Rather than swirling in a whirlwind of negativity and stories that only further escalate your feelings, practice compassion and let go of the need to judge and berate.
Not only will you feel the benefit of this practice, so will the person you're interacting with, and so might everyone else you encounter through the day!
If you're struggling to find balance in your work, diet, rest, exercise, time with friends and family, or any other area, add some amethyst to your day to remind you of the practice of working towards balance.
Amethyst is a powerful stone for the mind. It is believed to calm or stimulate the mind as necessary, as well as to help the wearer feel more focused and in control of their thoughts and actions.
Amethyst helps in the creation of new ideas, enhancing creativity and passion, putting thought into action, and seeing projects through to completion.
A gemstone to improve motivation, intuition and help with decision making and a talisman of focus and success.
Amethyst is also believed to help with emotional balance, dispelling anger, fear and negativity. It is especially supportive for those who are stressed, overworked, or overwhelmed in bringing them back to a calm center.
Amethyst Ranges in colour from a light to rich deep purple. 108 bead knotted malas, bracelets and leather wraps all available. Check out our store or message us to have a design made just for you. These also make thoughtful gifts, each one arrives in a hand made bag with a description of the gemstone's metaphysical properties
It's that day of the week where we encourage you to take some time to journal so grab your laptop or notebook and start a fresh page.
This week we're thinking about balance: On the mat we're looking at physical balance and the balance between effort and ease. In our journaling, we'll be looking at balance in the way we spend our days.
If we can find more balance in life we feel more fulfilled, content and happier. These inner feelings affect our interactions both with ourselves and with others, helping us to lead lives in a more peaceful way and practice the yogic principle of ahimsa (non-harm).
Do you feel like your life is currently in balance (work - play -activity - rest - time with family & friends - time for self)?
If you do not feel like life is in balance, what is most unbalanced? What do you spend the most time & energy on, and what gets neglected the most?
(If you feel like you have a healthy balance of rest/work/time with family/time for reflection, consider if there are any other areas of your life where finding balance could be beneficial.)
What would balance look like to you at the moment? Describe how finding balance in work/life/play/rest etc would look and feel.
What small steps can you take to begin to bring more balance into your life?
This month we have been focusing on the yogic practice of ahimsa/non-violence. We have brought awareness to the nature of our thoughts and how we can sometimes be violent to ourselves, and then brought awareness to our actions and how we can harm in the things that we do and/or say. Over the next two weeks we'll be focusing on two techniques that can help to practice ahimsa in our day to day lives.
This week the focus is on balance. There are many ways that being out of balance can cause harm (think of the last time you were short with someone because you were too busy, or had too little sleep). If we bring more balance into our lives, we are less likely to cause harm through thought and action.
Some examples of imbalance in daily life that many of us experience are:
- Being out of balance in our diets such as over consumption of unhealthy foods, under-consumption of good nutrition, over consumption of alcohol or sugar, or under-consumption of water.
- Being out of balance in our health such as under exercising/having a too sedentary lifestyle, or in some cases over-training and pushing the body to injury.
- Not maintaining a healthy work/life balance can cause emotional harm to family and friends and can harm our mental, physical and emotional health.
- Failing to find balance in a schedule (over-scheduling) can lead to stress both for the over-scheduled individual and for the people they encounter through the day. It can lead to exhaustion and resorting to fast food etc which affect our health and well-being.
Through the course of this week I encourage you to consider where in your life you may be feeling a little out of balance and what small steps you can take to start to embody the practice of balance.
Do not feel like you need to be 'fixed' or that you have to find balance in every element of your life all at once. Consider where you would like to most feel more balance, such as family time, health, diet, exercise or sleep. Think or journal about what balance in that area of life looks like to you at the moment. Then plan some small actions that will help you step towards balance this week.
Remember that practicing balance in life is not about perfection, and it's not a static or statue-like state to be in. If you are in a balancing yoga pose, there are constant movements and adjustments, and the same applies in life. As on the yoga mat, do not get discouraged if you fall out of balance, there is always the opportunity to try again.