Yoga Off the Mat: Satya & Asteya
On the journey of the Yamas, we come across plenty of “DIY” interpretation. One of my favorite general areas to dance with your own creativity is with the Yama “Satya” or Truth. Satya is highly personal and definitively indefinite. Next in line is Asteya or “Non-stealing”. Asteya asks us to not only look at where we are consuming that may not be inherited, it also asks us to be aware of our place on this Planet. Where are we treading heavily where we could be lightened? These two concepts play well together (as most Yamas and Niyamas do): Allowing us to question where our intent is seeded and how we are in action on that intent with the surrounding Earth and community.
Truth is powerful. Truth is fierce. Truth is sometimes frightening. It invites us to trust in outcomes we can’t foresee, and to places where fear might have held Rule for a long time. On the surface, Satya inhibits us from telling lies. While this is certainly part of it, it doesn’t encompass the potential of what Satya could mean. Satya is listening. In our Yoga practice, we’re often guided to “listen to our bodies, listen to our minds…” and why? Because without listening, how can we ever know where our roots are buried? What is driving our souls to their purpose? This purpose is our Satya.
Satya also asks us to be real. The real true Self is a persona unique to each of us and equally as exceptional. It speaks to the moment from our center with boldness and spontaneity. This center is also the starting point for all of our self-expression. Self-expression could very well be humanity’s one true purpose, so it makes sense that we should allow it to come from a place of truth. Let our bodies move to a beat sacred to us, let our voices carry through airwaves, let our souls vibrate at a high enough frequency to elevate strangers, let us be kind always. All of these services activate our personal truths and assist in our joyful human experience.
The most important aspect of Satya is the fact that it is not just personal, it is fluid. Meaning your truth 5 years ago might not be your truth in the present. Hell, your truth 30 seconds ago might not be the same truth you breathe now! What is true for us at one time, at some point no longer serves us, and eventually becomes a lie. When we exhale in Yoga and “let go of anything that no longer serves us”, it could be as big of a thing as our mission in life. Maybe we’ve had an experience that takes our hearts, digs up the roots, and transplants them in equally as fertile ground. Go with it! Let it be! Live with compassion for Self, and allow yourself the freedom to be fluid.
If you’ve ever watched the kid’s show “Dora the Explorer”, you’re probably familiar with “Swiper no swiping!” Even if you’ve never seen the show, you know that we teach our kids at a young age not to steal from others. This theft comes in a multitude of ways, the first being theft from others. This can come in the form of judgment and comparison, perhaps “stealing someone’s thunder”? When we hear a peer’s successes and our mind (and mouth) immediately go to the best way we can one-up them, we’re stealing their pride and glory. We’re stealing their success. As Yogis, our mission should always be to lift each other up.
What about our planet? We are all visitors of this kind and generous place, and yet we have a tendency to walk with heavy feet, leaving our mark and our trash, and disregarding her emotions all the while. Being visitors, we don’t truly possess anything. As soon as we can fully embrace the concept of impermanence on this Earth, we can start treating it like the vessel it is. The Earth provides so much for us every day, allowing us to survive. What if we could all take on the idea of leaving things better than we found them? This act of Asteya will provide a sustainable environment for our children and our loved ones, long after we’re gone.
Finally, Asteya asks us to look deep into our community. How are we showing up? Do we have a mission to be of service to all of our fellow humans? Can we operate from the perspective of a visitor rather than hold ownership of all we see, including our friendships and relationships? Having awareness of how often we hold attachment to possessing things, whether material or intangible, is the first step to non-coveting. We talk a lot about “living our truth (Satya)”, maybe we can bring a little more attention to living in a space so content and grateful with what we have that we have no reason to be of a stealing mindset.