Be nice. Don't lie. Tell the truth. Most of us were told these words of wisdom when we were learning how to speak. I think they left out be real. Be compassionate. This is the essence of the second Yama (restraint) that is Satya, truthfulness. Learning how to merge non-harming and truthfulness is daunting. By taking your yoga practice on and off the mat you can start to live the life you are meant to lead.
I think many of us get trapped in our teenage minds. We long to blend in and thus we compromise small pieces of ourselves to please other people. I know this first hand because I am definitely a people pleaser. I like to have the answer to the question, I tend to seek satisfaction from outside praise, and in the past I have tried to mold myself to fit in with the group.
Truthfulness & Nonviolence
Truthfulness is partnered with nonviolence. These two opposites when combined creates powerful life guidelines. We practice speaking our truth without causing harm to others. Truthfulness keeps nonviolence from being a wimpy cop-out, while nonviolence keeps truthfulness from being a brutal weapon. Their union is an expression of love. - Deborah Adele
Being true requires one to be real with themselves and most of all it requires action. In my early twenties I was still living with my teenage mind and in my head I created this story line for myself: It was my duty to go to college and get a really great career. This meant I had to spend years in school studying. This would in the long run get me a really big house and lots of money. In my head I was doing this to please my family/friends/society. I was seeking the pat on the back, the job well done, basically I was in it all for the praise!
Then one day I happened to stumble into a yoga studio in downtown Crystal Lake. I had an asana practice before (the poses) and I thought yoga was all about getting into shape, flexibility and relaxation. I started to learn that the real practice of yoga is when you take it off the mat and try to live your practice in your thoughts, words and actions.
"Living the life that cries to be lived from the depth of our being frees up a lot of energy and vitality. The juices flow. Everyone around us benefits from the aliveness that we feel. On the other hand, suppressing that life, for whatever reason takes a lot of our life energy just in the managing of the pretending." -Deborah Adele
I am grateful that I have started to learn early on that pleasing people is not the way to happiness. I started to shed the stories I told myself about what it meant to be successful. I started to live the life I wanted to live. Now when I do things I do them because they will make me happy rather than please someone else. I clean my house because it makes me feel good not because I am looking for praise from society. I think as women especially we can get caught up in the gender roles we feel we are suppose to fulfill otherwise we feel we have failed in some way.
You can purchase Deborah Adele's book HERE:
As A Yoga Teacher
Practicing truthfulness is something I have to work on every day. I see it come up often in my classes in how I interact with my students. I have to ask myself how will they react to me verbally or physically adjusting them? Will they see it as me calling them out or will they appreciate the fact I was paying attention to them and doing my job. How will my words affect their actions? Am I speaking from a place of compassion when I speak the truth? Learning to recognize if a student wants to be left alone or wants attention has been a big part of my practice of the yamas and niyamas.
I have many students that miss the point of the lesson week after week. I see them wrapped up in the physical part of the practice even to the point of pain and suffering. In every class I say if something is painful, like sharp acute pain, get the heck out of the pose and come to a resting pose. Usually these students that are only there for the physical part ignore this cue.
"Real comes from the center of our unique essence and speaks to the moment from that center. Real has a boldness to it, an essence, a spontaneity. Real asks us to live from a place where there is nothing to defend and nothing to manage. Real is something we might not always like in another, but we come to know there will be no surprises. Real, though not always pleasant, is trustworthy."-Deborah Adele
Recently, I spoke the truth with one particular student in front of the whole class about getting out of a pose I could see was causing acute pain. The way I spoke to the student left the student feeling embarrassed and hurt and in turn the student had a few unkind words for me as well. This was during the month I was speaking of ahimsa. I have given this exchange a lot of thought. While I realized I was being real with the student, I was not practicing ahimsa in my words and for that part I am sorry. However, I don't regret action of directly addressing the student because it came from a place of being real with them. If I was nice about it the student might have seriously hurt them self. In that moment I needed them to stop what they were doing in order to be safe.
The result of my truthfulness though did cause harm in the long run in the form of the student feeling embarrassed. A few weeks after this happened the student and I were able to talk about what had happened and I reiterated it was not my intention to cause them embarrassment and I just wanted them to be safe in the class. The fact I was able to talk to this person with compassion afterward has left me grateful for this student. This student has taught me the meaning of the marriage of ahimsa and satya.
My students have taught me that when people are ready for the true message of the practice they will hear it. It is up to each of us to live our own truth.