Satya – The Yama of Truthfulness

Sean O'Leary

Satya is the practice being truthful and honest in our thought, speech and action.  On the surface this yama may seem straightforward but in reality it requires a constant observance and understanding of the changing nature of our relationships and the world.

The definition of truth is “the true or actual state of a matter” or “conformity with fact or reality”.  Interestingly if matter and reality are in constant state of fluctuation and change truth will be relative to each circumstance and situation.  So to grasp at the idea of truth or honesty our yoga must be a spiritual practice that is rooted in a constant exploration of the present. 

I love the idea of a practice that doesn’t state right or wrong or a single path but gives an idea that is relative to the individual, community, culture and causation of our surroundings.  Every person has an opinion and values developed throughout life.  Satya challenges us to investigate our motives. In his book Yoga for a World out of Balance Michael Stone points out the connection between person and society

“From the time of our birth, we each respond not only in a personal sense to the precariousness of our human condition, but we are also the inheritors of delusive social institutions and shared meanings about the world.  The same basic patterns we find in our minds and bodies are also found in the structure and function of our institutions.”

I like how Michael Stone challenges the reader to consider how contemporary society can warp our worldviews and potentially corrupt us into living untruthful lives.   The social and economic pressures of modern life make us think that success, financial gain and consumerism is equivalent to life satisfaction but this is ultimately a lie.  At our deepest core we yearn for love, community and compassion.   Yoga practice, meditation, pranayama, and asana all bring us closer to our true needs rather than our conditioned desires.  The yama satya prompts us to investigate our desires and how we can live aligned with our highest truth.

What does living honestly mean to you?

What is Yoga? Exploring your Truth

by Sean O'Leary

 

What is Yoga anyways?  This question can be answered many different ways.  Before I write a 1 million page article or tangent about my perspective about yoga I would like to clear up a few things:

  1. I am writing this to celebrate the abundance of Yoga we have access to
  2. This article is not stating the best/only yoga, or spiritual path. 
  3. Yoga, while challenging, should be enjoyable

The word Yoga can be translated to mean union or intimacy.  Through different kinds of practices the goal of Yoga is to explore the connection and relationship between body (physical), mind (consciousness) and soul (universal consciousness).  When we deepen the relationship and experience between these 3 aspects of our selves there is a sense of contentment.

Balance must occur simultaneously between effort and ease in all practices.

Through the intelligent awareness of body we can align ourselves into deep states of relaxation and experience profoundly calm states of consciousness without the constant chatter and fluctuation of the mind.

The nourishment and pleasure resulting from calming the mind guides us to adjust our lifestyles to experience it more often. 

Everyone has heard of Yoga and its popularity has exponentially exploded into an overwhelming market.  Now sold as a service Yoga is branded into different stlyes like: ashtanga yoga, power yoga, bikram yoga, iyengar yoga, sivinanda yoga, kripalu yoga, Bob yoga, Jenny yoga, and thousands and thousands more styles and brands created all the time.  For the most part all of these styles focus mainly on the physical asana practice, or stretches and poses we do on the yoga mat.  A small problem is some of these practices are too strenuously fitness-based or difficult in the beginning for the average person new to yoga to succeed in achieving the asanas (poses) correctly. The fruits (therapeutic benefits) of the practice are lost unless we can perform the practice with a balance of integrity, steadiness, and ease.  Lost in translation is sometimes the point of yoga itself: finding a clarity in the mind. 

Asana (posture) is only a small part of Yoga practice.  There are many different practices.  The 8 limbs of Hatha Yoga include Yama (ethical standards), Niyama (self discipline/spiritual observances), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breathing practices), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), Dharana (concentration), Dyana (one pointed focus/concentration), Samadhi (enlightenment/bliss).  Outside of the hatha path there are  other Yoga practices including Karma Yoga (yoga of selfless action/service), Bhakti Yoga (unconditional love or devotion), Raja Yoga (follows the 8 limbs of hatha yoga), Jnana Yoga (Yoga of knowledge or wisdom).  Clearly there are more options for our yoga practices than just Asana (poses). 

A point that must be made clear is every person is uniquely different and will need to find a practice that provides a progressive path towards physical and spiritual contentment.  In other words, find a practice that is enjoyable and works.

Traditionally yoga was transmitted in a one-on-one basis.  It was taught to the level, and ability of the practitioner.  Although guidance is necessary to learn different practices of yoga we need to tune in what practices are working for outselves.

There is less attention paid to the more subtle experiences of yoga practice like states of consciousness and movement of energy. 

The practice of asana is generally a starting point to prepare a student to sit comfortably to experience the state of his/her consciousness.   

Join us on Friday, Feb 7 for our Dharma Night discussion about “What is yoga?” See you there!  

Rebirth of Community


by Sean O'Leary

 

This Friday night, Live Yoga is starting “Dharma Nights,” which Amy and I are very excited to offer. This is an opportunity for members of the studio and other friends to talk, discuss, come together and create community. Community: something that I believe we are fundamentally missing in our lives.  Click here for more info.

This Friday, we discuss community as a topic. What is it? Why is it missing? Where did it go? How do we get it back? How can are our lives be more meaningful and connected?

What is community?  It is a really good question because in my opinion community has almost disappeared in our society.   It is almost foreign to consider being close to all the neighbors on your street, and also difficult remaining close to friends and family with our busy lives.  I tried to google the word community and the first 10 hits were about some American television show.  Even the internet has forgotten community.  How strange that we have boxed ourselves into such a sedentary lifestyle not requiring anyone’s help for anything, as if to say, “I’m an individual and I can provide for myself, make my own way, without your help.”  This way of thinking is ingrained in having a successful career and life.  I felt for years an urge to connect more with others, to help others or simply to be part of a group of people with similar interests and this yearning has remained.  It seems impossible to find community in most urban or suburban areas. In the past, being part of a community meant you had fellow beings to help support you through your life.  Members would gather weekly to visit and sing, and there would be abundant help during harvest time or when somebody was building their house, for instance. All would freely offer their time to assist.  I guess in the past people were just friendlier and more generous with donating their time.  Or maybe time was more abundant.

In the current society we live in, most people I know are too busy to take time for themselves.  40 hours a week in order to make ends meet.  After work a runabout of chores and activities fill the rest of our time.  Time has become a rarity and busy-ness a reality.  Time is Money.  Hmmmm That last sentence Time is Money.  Time is Money. Time is Money!  Money! Money!  Money!   This is the problem itself.  Our lack of community and ever increasing loneliness, as well as our despair about achieving success is driven by the very evil word, MONEY.  Most things we used to rely on our community for have now been turned into services that we pay for.  In fact any good business idea is just that, turning something people do for themselves into a service for a fee.  It paints a grim picture about the direction of our society.

In his book, Ascent of Humanity, Charles Eisenstein sums it up:

“…and so we find in our culture a loneliness and hunger for authenticity that may well be unsurpassed in history.  We try to ‘build community’, not realizing that the mere intention is not enough when separation is built in to the very social and physical infrastructure of our society.  To the extent that this infrastructure is intact in our lives, we will never experience community.  Community is incompatible with the modern lifestyle of highly specialized work and complete dependence on the specialists outside that work.  It is a mistake to think that we can live ultra-specialized lives and somehow add another ingredient called community on top it all.  Again, what is there to share?  Not much that matters, to the extent that we are independent of neighbors and dependant on faceless institutions and distant strangers.”

Ok so I realize this has been kind of a downer so far.  But it will brighten up from here, I promise!  The idea of the separate self should be abandoned so we can align with a more fulfilling way of life.  We have to need each other!  We must rely on the goodness within each of us.  We all desire to give and enact our gifts, and thus strengthen the bonds of community and create a more wholesome, organic and connected way of living.

There is another way, and it requires us to trust our true human nature.  We all have a goodness, a desire to be creative and make beautiful things.  A desire to meet, share, help and love others.  It is written in our genes!!  I do know something is perverted about our society, economy and so forth but as human we are all amazing.  Deep down our hearts all know we can live differently, and it will take some big changes to make the world, starting with our communities, a more beautiful place.

I think small changes are the most important for us to reconnect with the people around us.  Smiling and chatting with neighbours, cashiers and strangers you meet makes it more natural to be open with others.  Meeting in groups to enjoy like-minded ideas where everyone has an opportunity to share their gifts will harbour more connection between ourselves and others.  Living this way will develop relationships and over time those relationships can grow.  Living life with an open and loving heart will attract and sustain even the smallest seed of community, and seeds grow.

After searching more, I eventually found a definition of community on Wikipedia (the ultimate community project).

Community can refer to a usually small, social unit of any size that shares common values.  If community exists, both freedom and security may exist as well. The community then takes on a life of its own, as people become free enough to share and secure enough to get along.  

This is an extremely powerful and intriguing idea.  How can we bring these community-focussed ways of living into our modern-day life to create more nourishing and connected relationships? 

Let’s talk more about these ideas, and your thoughts about community, its difficulties and how to create more space for connection in our modern society! Dharma Night discussion happens this Friday night from 7:30-8:30pm. All welcome!