I used to ask myself if Yoga would change me into someone more insightful or maybe help me become a better person. What I’m slowly beginning to learn is to give myself a break! I’m already a decent person. Yoga will continue to help me find my best inner and outer self and continue to evolve from there.
Yama and Niyama are the first two of the eight limbs of Yoga. Yama to me means a behavior or attitude. The Yama that I’m doing my best to live by is Satya which means truthfulness. Sure, I’m honest I’m first generation Greek from New York, we’ve never had a problem being truthful. However, whose truth is it? And when do we offer it?
When do we speak the truth? If I feel true compassion towards another person and what they are saying, I would want the truth to benefit them. There’s not only a time and a place to speak the truth, but also how we choose to address it. It’s important to learn more about that person and where they are coming from. The truth will be kinder and will have more clarity when we take the time to learn more about an individual. It’s easy to say too much. Then the truth becomes this unnecessary chatter and sounds in genuine. Ujjayi breathing helps me think and keep my focus. I believe practicing meditation frequently will help as well.
Being truthful with myself doesn’t mean I have to be hard on myself all the time. During my corporate days (you know, wearing the high powered suit with the puffy shoulder pads.) I did well, but I didn’t believe in what I was doing at that time. I thought I had to be perfect. I found myself agreeing with people that I disagreed with. I thought if I would simply agree, this would help me succeed. Practicing Satya is helping me find my inner truth and hopefully articulate it more clearly. For me, this requires compassion, creativity and having an open mind. I’m learning to trust my intuition more. I threw wanting to be a perfectionist out the door. The rest will follow with practice.
Since we’re speaking of truthfulness, life’s obstacles do get in the way. I want to avoid sarcasm (it’s negative and unkind) when I’m listening to someone and I’m thinking “are you kidding me?” I’m better off not saying anything at all at that particular time. I think this is where the saying a “there’s a time and a place” comes in. I also want to avoid raising my voice due to my annoyance with others at times. At this point, if ujjayi breathing is simply not happening, I think of someone who has had a positive influence on me. This person is Grandmother. She is the epitome of sincerity and truthfulness. She made me see truth. In my mind, I bring myself back to spending my summers in Greece with her in her village and her farm from when I was five years old until I turned twenty-four. I never missed a summer. She was quiet and I honestly believe it was because she was comfortable with herself. When she had something to say it would resonate with everyone (all 20 of us!) at the table. The memories we made and her quiet, yet strong influence on me stretches beyond my Grandmother’s village in Greece and into my world here today. She was poor, but she found a way to humbly share with everyone. We would watch the movies that came into town from her balcony (talk about good theater seats!) I can picture her looking over the crowd of people in front of her in Athens airport. The minute she would see my face upon arrival, her eyes would well up with tears and she pushed her way through to hug my brother and I.
Our travels to Greece were made every year out of the love we have for our family. Love makes anything possible. The “union” in family as well as in yoga is filled with kindness, compassion, mindfulness and gentleness.
I’m blessed to know what positive truth feels like. It’s always been within. I’m learning you have to find it, embrace it and keep on learning.