Flow into the New Year with an awareness of Satya……Honesty
Each situation we come across offers us the opportunity to see the truth if we are open to it. A daily practice of slowing down, taking a couple of deep breaths and observing things as they really are can help us move closer towards a state of peace and stillness in the mind.
Off the mat
Complete honesty with ourselves requires us to create a little bit of space, stillness or at least some slowing-down of the mind. When we react instantly to situations on a purely primitive and emotional level, we’re often not seeing the truth and are acting from a place of fear and conditioning. Expert meditators such as the Dalai Llama have actually been able to slow down the response to stimuli within our primitive brain, and create a fraction more time to process situations. This has allowed the more evolved part of the brain – the cerebral cortex – actually consider things before the emotional brain takes over, so there is more time to see situations clearly and truthfully than reacting blindly to the stimulus.
On the mat……….
One very simple way of observing truth in our practice is by paying closer attention to the breath. The breath is such an important factor in asana practice, but one of the most important aspects is that it tells us when to back off…. If the breath is strained or shallow, it’s likely that the body isn’t happy with what it’s being asked to do – so even though it might hurt our ego a little bit, honesty requires listening to the breath in every moment and working with it.
Honesty is the foundation of any strong relationship, whether it be romantic, plutonic or within our families, but letting our ego get in the way of our heart can often stop us from forming meaningful relationships with others. Being truthful is something appreciated by everyone, and when others know we are honest towards them, we’ll build a trusting relationship where others know they can look to us for honesty.
There is a balance though; acting with compassion for others is also important. The Yoga sutras advise that if being honest in that moment is likely to cause harm to another, then it is best not to say or do anything at all…. Indian philosophy is contextual – meaning the Indians actually often change their standpoints and morals according to each situation, which can be very confusing – so if the situation calls for it, remember the saying ‘sometimes it is better to be kind than to be right’.
The Asato Maa mantra from the Upanishads is used by many practitioners as a daily acknowledgement of moving towards truth:
Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya
“Lead me from the unreal to the real
From darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge)
From death to immortality”