Inspiration from Maui

mauipic

I just got back from a very beautiful retreat in Maui. One didn’t have to look very far for inspiration, whether it be listening to the brilliantly inspiring speakers or watching the beautiful sunsets (sunsets are my favorite…sunrises are pretty great too). A favorite take away for me, was from the Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg. This particular quote, goes something like this, “we all want to feel connected to one another and in order to connect, we need to see everyone as equal and believe that everyone matters. We cannot connect through hatred and anger. We can only attain this through love…love of oneself and love of others”.

Satya

“No Words can reflect truth unless they stem from the spirit of non-violence”~unknown (although I think it was Ghandi)

Today, I am focusing on another one of the Yamas which is Satya or “truth/truthfulness. Satya and Ahimsa (non-violence) which we covered last week, can and need to work in harmony with one another. To me it means, yes we need to be truthful, but we need to show discernment when dealing with people’s feelings and always approach truth from a compassionate space which goes in line with the Buddhist teachings of “right thought, right speech, right action”.

This can relate to our practice and our everyday lives in many ways. In order to practice Satya with others, it requires a more mindful approach to how we interact with each other meaning, it offers an opportunity to be more responsive and less reactive. It actually requires us to think before we speak and to live this way requires that we have a filter and, quite honestly and more importantly, it requires us to slow down.

Slowing down in our practice and listening to our bodies (they actually have a lot to say if we pay attention) allows us to make the right decision that is “true” as to what we need at that moment (which may be different than what our body was telling us yesterday). If we remove the filter of the ego (which shows no mercy as it often tells us to go, go, go), then we can access that truthful space.

Speaking our truth is another way to look at Satya. Because I work with many who have been unable to speak their truth, it’s something I like to talk about and it’s something I work on for myself. Honesty and truthfulness can be very healing. Often we don’t speak our truth out of “fear”. That fear can manifest itself in the form of shame, fear of disappointing someone we love, or fear of not being loved etc. Speaking our truth often takes more courage than other forms of Satya.

So let’s practice this week being true to what we really need while being honest about what our bodies are telling us.

Svadhyaya

svad

Svadhyaya is one of the Niyamas and, traditionally, is an act of self-reflection that is inspired through any spiritual or inspiring text. This particular practice is essential to my own growth because without reflection I could not continue to heal and evolve in the ways that I believe I am meant to do.

Svadhyaya gives us an opportunity to dig past the “veils” of the human experience to go deeper, allowing us a glimpse of who we really are. I say a glimpse because most of the time, that’s where I am. I get glimpses but not always a true reflection of self. Sometimes it’s a matter of trusting my “listening” which can be the struggle as all of our experiences go through the human body with all of it’s distractions. So I continue to practice knowing that some days it will be really clear and on other days it will be a train wreck. Regardless of the experience, I HAVE to show up. Whether or not it’s perfect or a train wreck is irrelevant. It’s all a part of the experience (and, from what I’ve learned, train wrecks, although painful, can often provide the deepest and most enlightening insight). No matter what shows up on any given day, I have to sit with all of it, stay detached from all of it, because that IS the practice.

On a more practical level, any kind of self-reflection is good. This is a practice that has been a lifesaver for me as I use reflection to help me through trying times. In order to do that, I need to get quiet and open my heart so that the negative emotions don’t misguide me, which allows me to stay in the pure place I need to go in order to really get to the root of the matter. Reflecting on an event or conversation, as well as the emotions and feelings around the conversation, is where the lesson lives. That said proceed with great care because it also requires honesty, courage, and immense self-compassion. It is not a practice to take lightly because we can be so critical of our self, that instead of reflecting, we end up beating ourselves up which is not at all helpful. So if this practice is new to you, then go about it gently, like maybe reading something uplifting and inspirational and then sitting for a bit. In doing so, little by little, it’s possible that you’ll experience growth and shifts. The more you practice, the clearer it all becomes.