The second Yama: Satya or non-lying

You will have noticed by now that the yamas, when translated to English, are negations. The reason for this is that they are meant to be things we will refrain from doing (restraints). The second Yama is named Satya which is translated to non-lying, meaning to be honest with yourself as with others. However, keeping in mind the first Yama, this means to speak the truth as long as it is not in the intention of being hurtful to others…

For me, being true to yourself is at the center of this Yama. We all accept too much crap, for far too long. Being honest to yourself means acknowledging how you feel and respecting that. Sometimes it may also mean that you have to let go of certain relationships in order to bring balance back to your life as you understand that these no longer serve you.

Many will challenge and place obstacles in your way, but if you dedicate yourself to being truthful, these won’t slow you down for long. Sometimes it can be hard to pursue as you are brought back to memories of the past, by the presence of others or by becoming aware of an event, but it doesn’t change the fact that this remains the past. Life is now, the reality is in the present, going back will only delay you moving forward.

Knowing the path you have to take is far much easier than walking it. By being true to yourself and to others, you invite people in your life who will also bring these qualities in their relationship with you. And once these qualities start pouring into your life, you will feel rewarded and grateful for those around you and for the perseverance you have demonstrated in being true to yourself.

So today, I am grateful for the path I have been walking as it has led me to meet amazing people. True friends also continue to fill my life with love and friendship on this journey. Be true to yourself to end this suffering. Look around you and see the few or many who really appreciate you for who you are. Namaste.

The Yamas – introduction

This Fall, I have had the chance to continue teaching yoga at work with an amazing person, my friend and colleague Joanna. We’ve taken our dear students through three of the yamas so far, at the rate of one per month. The yamas, per Patanjali’s sutras, consist in the first of the eight-limbed path to happiness. There are five yamas and they can be presented as a set of restraints or code of conduct (click to read previous posts on the subject: “To strive to live by” and “Life’s Code of Conduct”)

Why this is so interesting to me, I don’t know. Perhaps because I truly believe that by making small changes in our everyday life and behaviors can we take bigger steps towards living a fuller, happier life? Maybe. But why do we need a code of conduct, or do we?

For as long as humans have existed, suffering has thrived. It has been so, it seems, mostly because we remain insatiated, always wanting more, thinking that the next best thing will make us happy. In reality, we are often the cause of our own suffering through the actions we take and the everyday decisions we make. Patanjali’s yamas are there to help us make better choices along the way so that we may lead a happier life.

And so, as simple as they may seem, these five yamas can greatly influence the outcome of our lives. The next few posts will be a dedicated reflection on each of these: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (non-lying), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (honouring yourself), and Aparigraha (non-coveting).

I invite you to share your point of view and your opinion on this subject. However, before going any further, one principle will need to be kept in mind: “self-observation without criticism” as Swami Kripalu often reminded his students. As we look inward, it can be hard to accept what we see, and it often takes a lot of courage to do so. But, only by knowing where we stand can we move forward. Namaste.

To strive to live by

A few weeks ago I was writing about Life’s Code of Conduct. Since then, I’ve had ample time to reflect and to start thinking about my own Code of Conduct. And so, today I share with you six of the many concepts I strive to live by.

Non-judgement; Trying not to have preconceived opinions and to approach others with an open-mind, whatever they look like and whom ever they are. This also means that I will not support someone else’s imposed judgement of others. When people judge others, I find it only creates discomfort and tension in interactions. As Dr. Wayne Dyer says: “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

Honesty; I am repugnant of hypocrisy, of people who are fake and who are more concern about the image they project then the truth of their actions. In dishonesty, there is no solid base for establishing relationships, as it creates stress and fosters feelings of anger and hate. This also means to be honest with myself, to speak my mind respectfully, and to refuse to subject myself to situations I don’t feel comfortable with or to people who promote dishonesty.

Compassion; For me, this means to care for other’s well-being and to have no hesitation in lending a helping hand or providing a listening ear. It also means to see all humans as equal, all striving to live their lives, only wishing to be happy. And so, it is with compassion and an open heart that I wish to approach others.

Generosity; A very important and intricate concept to me which does not necessarily mean to give money away. Rather, it is the generosity of self, by sharing a positive attitude, and generosity of spirit, by offering my time and by listening or helping someone in need. In thinking about the Spiritual Laws of Yoga, the Law of Giving and Receiving is also very relevant here, in being able to accept gifts, compliments, help from others, and even a seat on the bus, acknowledging others’ generosity.

Respect; For the environment and for our elders, for other people’s beliefs and decisions. Respect for myself, by the food I choose to ingest, by how I treat my body and to what I subject my mind too. But all and all, it is also honoring such things as Life.

Enthusiasm; As a way of life and a general attitude in life. I admire kids for this. I enjoy life and I try not to let chores and trips to the grocery store drag me down! I wish to make the most of every moment, to see the beauty in all things, while remaining grounded to the reality of life. I like to smile.

And so, these are some of the important concepts I wish to continuously strive to live by. Of course there are many other things I could write about, but I’ll stop here for your sake! Knowing this helps me regain perspective on life when things get hard, like the anchor to a boat, or in my case, like the roots of my lotus flower. Namaste.

Happiness through friendship

With a determination to achieve the highest aim
For the benefit of all sentient beings
Which surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem,
May I hold them dear at all times. ~ Verse 1 Bodhicaryavatara

I have been thinking about writing something on friendship for a long time because of its importance and the happiness it brings to my life. I was practicing Yoga earlier this week when it occurred to me that this was such a great moment to be sharing with my new friend, the type of moment you read about in books, I thought to myself. Old or new, people whom you consider friends are part of your life and deserve your acknowledgement and appreciation.

Recently, a good friend of mine came back from India. It was great to see her and reconnect. However, I felt bad that I hadn’t been there for her in difficult times; she had helped me through so much many years ago. When I apologized, she replied without hesitation: Life is a cycle. What you give to others you shouldn’t expect to be given back, but know that it will benefit others and that eventually it will benefit you.  She was right. There I was, a few months later, it was my turn to take on the listening role, offering honest thoughts to someone who needed them.

Friends are amazing because they make you laugh and accept you just the way you are. Some friendships may sometimes be tumultuous, filled with arguments and fights, but in the end, they are some of the best. Good friends challenge you and offer honest but caring thoughts that make you grow. I don’t always see it that way at the time, nor does she, but the laugh and complicity we share are priceless.

Some friendships arise in the weirdest circumstances and are often not understood by others than the people involved. And then there are friendships filled with trust, love and compassion. A companionship that refills your energy and grounds you, making you feel like you just let out a big sigh :)

People who surround you become your family, even if some already are! My sister and my brother are some of the best friends I have and I know that we will always be there for one and other. Be filled with happiness in recognizing those around you whom you consider to be your friends for they offer love, compassion, honesty, moral support and trust no matter how far they are or how often you see them. Never hesitate to reach out to them in time of need but in turn offer a listening ear when they have something to say. Let go of ancient grudges for those are the only thing standing between you and life.

I am grateful for the great friends I have in my life: you make me laugh, you make me happy. Thank you.

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