Kimi Marin Yoga

Honor limitations. Transcend Boundaries.

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Asteya: The Third Yama

strong quote

This week I am discussing asteya, non-stealing (a= not steya=stealing), the third yama. Yamas are attitudes and restraints we hold to live a deeper, more rewarding and encompassing life.  The first yama is ahimsa, non-violence, and the second is satya, truth. Each yama builds upon each other creating a foundation to live with compassion and contentment.

In my research to see what is already out in the world on asteya, I came across a blog describing each yama. For asteya it basically said “self-explanatory.” I think asteya goes a little deeper than “don’t take shit that doesn’t belong to you.” Asteya to me includes not only the physical removing of items that are not yours but also is taking anything physical, emotional, and energetic that is not yours.  I think of how we take people’s time by being late, being unprepared, or texting and checking email when we are with them. We take from the earth by not recognizing every choice we make from long showers to plastic wrapped food affects the sustainability of this planet and all its inhabitants. We take people’s happiness and good fortune by being jealous, competitive, controlling, or manipulative. We take people’s energy by thinking of our own stuff while someone else talks or saying we will do something and then backing out. We all do this in various ways and these are all forms of stealing.

For a couple of years, I felt lost and unsure of myself. During this time I copied what others were doing. I did this because they seemed successful or happy or sure of themselves. Instead of tapping into my own progress I would compare myself to other people and feel hostile or resentment towards them. When I found my path, all the jealousy and resentment I was holding toward others dissipated. I became happy with what I was doing and could honestly be happy for others. We all must live in balance. When we live in balance, we live with contentment. As many of us know, balance is hard and we are constantly shifting. This constant movement is why we need to stay aware and mindful to what we are doing and how we are doing. Life is in constant motion, we are in always moving. But in the center of the is where our true knowledge and sense of fulfillment rests.

Stealing occurs when we feel a lack for something. We steal from the earth, people, and ourselves when we focus on the external environment to satisfy our desires: we think we need bigger cars, bigger houses, more clothes, more money, more friends, more time. When in fact each of us needs to go within and give to ourselves the gift of presence. This is where the first yama ahimsa, non-violence, says be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to explore, to fail, to wonder, to rest, and to relax. Give yourself permission to feel a sense of lack and then ask “what is it I am lacking?” from there tap in to satya, truth, and again ask “what am I lacking” – until you strip all the layers of illusion (jealousy, ego, competition, comparison, pain, joy, suffering, happiness) and find that you can only say to yourself “I live with abundance.”

Remind yourself when you think you need external validation to make you happier, prettier, thinner, stronger, funnier, more desirable that you live with abundance.

I live with abundance.

I live with abundance.

I live with abundance.

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Satya: The Second Yama

This week I touch upon the second yama, Satya or truth. The word Satya comes from Sat which means “being.”  Satya is not only about speaking the truth but on a deeper meaning Satya is the practice of being the truth. Every thought, every word, every action you take is to come from your most authentic, real self. For many of us, our true self is a mystery. We live our life trying to please our ego, please others, and wishing our lives were different. I know that I don’t move always from a place of truth. Honestly, I mainly move from ego and desire. I do this out of habit, fear, and simply being unaware of my thoughts and patterns.

Recently,  I went to a talk at an ashram and the swami speaking reminded each of us that our life is this Now. Every thought, every feeling, everything your senses take in is your life and your reality. Now many of us sit around rushing through life, trying to get things done, trying to please others, trying to get our ego satisfied and the validation that we are a good enough person. Satya says to let all that go, look within and see the truth of your situation. What is the truth of your thoughts? When you strip away all your layers, what is the truth of your motivation? On the most subtle level, what your intention for doing what you are doing?

Gandhi wrote an essay on Truth and said that Truth is God. He said where truth lies so does true knowledge and where there is true knowledge there is bliss. Think about how much better you feel when you make that hard decision that you know is right. To move with Satya is not easy. That is why many of us get in the habit of white lies, not speaking out truths, and not believing in ourselves. As Judith Lasater points out in her article, To Tell the Truth, “the practice of satya is about restraint: about slowing down, filtering, carefully considering our words so that when we choose them, they are in harmony with the first yama, ahimsa.” In my search to understand Satya, I am repeatedly told three questions to ask before speaking: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

As you go through your day and through your week, stop and ask yourself these three vital questions before you speak and before you act: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?. As you pause to do this, the layers that cover your true intention will be visible. When you peel away the layers of ego, trying to please others, and habitual behaviors, the base of your intention, the truth of your motivation and what you want to convey will be exposed. From this place move forward.

Ahimsa: The First Yama

hand flowerYoga is considered to be an eight-limbed path to reach pure bliss, Samadhi. On this path, the yoga asanas, the physical practice, is the third limb. Most of us, when we start yoga bypass the first two limbs and jump into the physical practice unaware there is more to yoga than warrior 2, downdog, and savasana.  For many of us, when we really begin to get into our practice, we start to notice that what happens on the mat begins to trickle into our everyday life. We start finding more patience or at least become aware of our own impatience. We find ourselves breathing more, or feeling better at work because our back no longer hurts. Then, eventually, we are led to the first two limbs of the yogic path

The first limb is the Yamas – the attitude and actions we take towards others. Throughout the next ten weeks, I will be addressing the yamas and niyamas. The very first yama is Ahimsa, non-harming or non-violence ( “a’ means not and “himsa” means violence). Ahimsa is said to be the most important of all the yamas and niyamas and therefore is the first one we learn.  Ahimsa teaches is all beings are equal and no living being should harm another in thought, speech, or action. Now if we were to live in true ahimsa, we would all be dead. When we breathe or drink water we take in germs and bacteria. Even when we walk we may kill ants and small insects. Instead of beating yourself up trying to wrap your mind around the concept of non-violence, observe your intention or motive behind each thought and action. Are you acting in self-defense for survival? Are you reacting from ego or a past experience? For instance, we put down our animals when they are in agony. We think our boss is a moron and wish them ill-feelings because of our ego was bruised. Which, do you believe, is ahmisa and which is himsa?

According to Deborah Adele “Our capacity to be nonviolent depends on our proactive practice of courage, balance, love of self, and compassion for others.”[i] To find courage, to bring balance into our lives and become compassionate towards others, we need to tap into self-love. Each of us needs to become of aware of how we think, how we see the world and ourselves, and work to change our negative, harmful tendencies as they creep in. How we treat ourselves is how we treat others.

Our culture is not a peaceful one. I feel like I hear about a shooting once a week. Watching the Super Bowl commercials I was appalled at the violence I saw – people hitting each other, a guy hitting a shark, a man tying-up a cheetah. There are magazines, television and internet shows, dedicated to insulting what celebrities wear and how they look. Our culture thrives on himsa and sadly, we are part of our culture. Without even knowing it we are constantly making judgments, putting others down, and worse, acting violent to ourselves. We cut our faces and our bodies to look younger and more attractive. We work hard without rest and berate ourselves for resting when we do, we push ourselves to exhaustion, we eat processed foods, we medicate our bodies to stay awake, we medicate our bodies to go to sleep. Many of us have lost the capacity and patience to feel sad, confused, lost, happy, pleased, and content. We look down on the “beginner’s mind” – the modest mind which allows oneself to come from a place of learning, patience, and boundaries knowing that only hard work and humility will lead past the present edges currently being honored.

Today, play with awareness: observe how you react to situations, how you talk to yourself, and how you think about others. As you go through your day notice your thoughts. How do you talk to yourself? Remove the words “should and would” from your vocabulary. These words are violent words that only lead you to feeling guilty (“I should be…”) and minimize your worth (“I would if…”). Begin to keep to a gratitude journal. Each day find time to write down what you are grateful for in your day. What lessons did you learn from the co-worker that you annoyed you? Or the super-slow driver that was in front of you when you were late to work?  When you begin to verbalize a negative thought, hold it, and replace it with something positive and nurturing. Start being gentle to You and this compassion will naturally begin to move to those around you.


[i] Adele, Deborah. Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice. Duluth: On-Word Bound Books, 2009. Web.

 

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