Yoga offers ancient solutions to modern problems. But you could also say yoga offers ancient solutions to ancient problems, because when things go sideways in our lives, the themes are as old as the sun. Grief, loss, disappointment, illness, anger, pain, frustration, loneliness: none of these are unique to the modern world. Your girlfriend may have broken up with you over Snapchat, but there’s nothing newfangled about the heartbreak you feel.
In this series of blog posts, I discuss yogic practices that we can use to navigate difficult times. In my last post, I looked at ahimsa, the first of the yamas. Today I’ll be focusing on the second yama, satya (“SA-tya”).
Satya can be understood as “non-lying and commitment to honesty”. How can we practice satya during times of difficulty? Here are some thoughts:
Practice self-honesty: Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. Don’t bury your feelings with the hope of having them disappear or resolve by themselves.
Practice honesty with others: Be honest with the people around you about how you’re feeling. Being honest with close friends and family helps them understand why your behaviour may have changed, and it lets them know how they can support you. There are also people you may need to speak honestly with for more formal reasons. Your boss, for example, may need to know a little of what’s going on in order to understand why you’re taking time off or why your productivity has decreased.
Practice honesty in asking for help: Some problems are too big for you to solve on your own, and professional guidance may be appropriate. It’s okay to ask for help from a psychologist or counsellor. Perhaps a conversation with your family doctor about using medication is appropriate.
Practice honesty with people who have hurt you: If someone has hurt you, speaking honestly with that person may help to resolve the situation. In this case, remember the yama of ahimsa (non-violence, least harm, compassion). It’s possible to hold someone accountable for their actions without adding aggression to the situation. Speak your truth from your heart.
Like any practice, it’s much easier to develop a practice of satya when things are going well. That way, when life becomes a struggle, you already have the habit in place.
How else can you practice satya in difficult times? Let me know in the comments section below.
Image © 2016 Erin Bidlake