Sutra I.2 Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind.
Sutra II.30 The yamas are nonviolence, truthfulness, refraining from stealing, celibacy and renunciation of unnecessary possessions.
I recently started working with a new client who is in his mid-fifties. Although his original thoughts for choosing to work with me started around some physical limitations, I quickly realized we would be working with his thoughts, teaching him how to live an authentic life and what that would mean to him. It is one of the major differences between Physical Therapy and Therapeutic Yoga. Therapeutic Yoga allows me to teach how to work with your thoughts through your body and to help you live an authentic life.
I have chosen two separate sutras, Suta 1.2 and 11.30, that relate to living your life/ living your truth. It is important to still the changing states of the mind and stop being unkind to yourself. This month, in order to explain how one can begin to live a more authentic life using yoga and successfully cut out the mind chatter (vrttis vrit-tees), I would like to highlight two of the Yamas- Ahimsa (nonviolence) and Satya (truthfulness).
Ahimsa, or Nonviolence, is one of the most commonly known of the Yamas. The concept of non-harming goes deep in the yogic system and can be readily used to help oneself. Most of us in the United States are taught at a very young age to be kind to others, but what about being kind to ourselves? For example, to quote Tom Hanks from A League of Their Own, “There’s no CRYING IN BASEBALL!”. In other words, pull yourself up by the bootstraps. We learn to be harsh self-critics by the time we enter our tumultuous teens. It is impossible to berate yourself, call yourself names, run yourself down and belittle yourself without negative consequences. Our bodies have a physical response to this type of behavior. I use that physical response to help my students better understand themselves. For example; if your stomach is upset when you are mad at yourself for a perceived shortcoming, you are experiencing first-hand the self-harm associated with Himsa…or violence. The body is a wonderful tool in self-exploration.
With the student mentioned above, my first teaching was to help him understand what his negative self-talk was centered around. Once identified we worked to understand the impact on his physical and mental bodies. Finally, we worked on him “catching himself” in the act of self-disparaging and guided him to choose to restate in a neutral or positive tone what was being said.
Satya or Truthfulness is the idea that if we are being authentic with ourselves and others, then we are standing in our truth at all times. When in our truth, we are not at odds with our body or mind and therefore will not suffer any negative physical or mental consequences. Using yoga therapy I can help you work with truthfulness in identifying your level of discomfort in different situations. I also help to peel back all pretense and fully live from truth when dealing with oneself and others.
Deborah Adele in her book The Yamas and Niyamas says, “When we run from life, try to manage life, or leave our energy scattered here and there, we feel differently than when our whole self shows up with our thoughts, words, and actions congruent and unified”. Choosing truth is not easy. It is often the more challenging path, but I am here to help. When we live in unity with our true nature there is no conflict; there is no need to berate ourselves, talk down to ourselves, dismiss ourselves, basically no self harm or Himsa (violence). We live in harmony with the most important person in our lives…..ourselves.
The student referenced above is learning to not dismiss his truth. He has “yeah-but” syndrome. When it is apparent he is living from truth he will say, “yeah, but…” and dismiss his authenticity. It makes him uncomfortable, and puts him at odds with what the world perceives his worth “should” be. Satya is a continuous daily practice.
Which leads me to the big wrap-up, Sutra 1.2 The “mind-stuff” referenced in this sutra refers to the conflict of not being authentic and truthful with yourself. It refers to the barrage of negative self-talk we choose to swim in which damages our Anandamaya (our Spirit). Live YOUR life. You were placed on this earth with a special set of gifts and talents that NO ONE else has exactly like you have. NO ONE. Coming from truth, living in truth and loving self are all very important when you work towards authenticity. Be you! Everyone else is taken.
To quote U. G. Krishnamurti, “When the movement in the direction of becoming something other that what you are isn’t there anymore, you are not in conflict with yourself”.