Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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Thieves! Arn’t we all?

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According to Webster joy is: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight. 

Do you know how we kill joy? By stealing. Who is the thief? Sadly, I am a thief. And so are you. Probably. Hear me out…

ASTEYA. Non-Stealing. The 3rd Yama of Patanjali…

Don’t steal.

Yeah yeah yeah… we all know stealing is wrong. I am not a thief per  se… At least I haven’t been since my younger years when I may or may not have gotten cheap thrills from petty theft. Like the time I shoplifted stud earrings off of the cardboard backings and stuffed them by the handfuls into my little overall pockets (I was a toddler and my mom made me take them back)… since then theft hasn’t really been a problem. Or has it?

Upon a deeper examination of my behavior I have found that I DO steal. How? Here my confessional begins…. 4 ways that I am a  thief and a “joy killer”.

#1: When I stay over at a friend’s house and they let me take a shower and there is really nice yummy shampoo and conditioner lining the basin, I might over indulge. It’s true. I LOVE shampoo and conditioner and I love trying new ones. I think I may use too much when I am at my friend’s homes? (insert embarrassed cringe here) This is stealing. I am offered it to use, but I probably take advantage. Taking advantage is stealing. I should never take advantage of people or opportunities placed in my life.  Have you ever decided to finish off the orange juice in the fridge knowing that someone else might want it? THIEF! 😉 How is my “thievery” a joy killer? When my friend runs out of shampoo or finds the juice container empty because someone over indulged… she is probably not happy…

and it goes on…

#2: When I am sitting at dinner with a group of people and there is a conversation going on between myself and another person and I am not present, I am stealing. They  talk away and I begin to drift into another place and I shake my head as if I am hearing them and I pretend to be engaged,but I am not. Then when they stop talking I scramble to find something wise to say related to the subject (I heard something about horses and I am from Colorado, Colorado has horses… so I blandly say this) but my heart isn’t in it and my input isn’t beneficial or important because I wasn’t really present… this is stealing. I am taking away the opportunity to be heard from the other person. REALLY heard. So often people pretend they are listening, the look like they are listening, but really… they aren’t. Sometimes when I am tired or there is a lot going on in my head, I fake it. Faking it is stealing.  I should always listen with my heart and also speak from my heart.  Joy Killer? Not necessarily, but not BRINGING Joy is a greater evil?

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#3: When I am walking down the street in my own world and I miss the little old lady sitting in her chair facing the sidewalk, she is siting there quietly and she could really use a simple smile and wave from a passer by. Sadly, because I am too caught up in the mission of my journey, I ignore her. This is stealing also. I am taking away her opportunity for love. I should always share my heart with those around me.  Again… not bringing the joy I am capable of to any encounter is similar to stealing.

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#4 When I look around the room in a yoga class during upavista konasa (seated forward fold) and I see that his head and chest are all the way down and mine.. well… isn’t… and I think to myself some sort of negative criticism and I push and struggle to inch forward…I am a) comparing myself to someone else (stealing my own joy) and b) missing the entire point of my practice, to be with myself, self realization, thus once again… stealing a rare opportunity for peace in my body…because I clutter my mind with unnecessary negative chatter. Joy Killer!

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Sure it may seem dramatic but once we walk “the path” the road gets narrower. It is always a good idea to re-evalaute our own behaviors so that we can continue to become better people. Just because we aren’t “bad” people, doesnt’ mean we are the best we can be, and this can be changed by simply 1)not taking advantage of people, at all…2) really listening to people when they are talking to you and giving well thought out, helpful feedback (or just a genuine pair of ears)…3) SMILE at those around you in life, the people on the street, the road, the train, the grocery store… where ever. And lastly… 4) Stop comparing yourself to others and be NICE to yourself. Use the voice in your head to create joy, not to kill it.

No more Joy Killers… only Joy BRINGERS! 😉

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“Does my butt look big?” A yogi responds.

big butt

TRUTHFULNESS. According to Patanjali (the author of the Yoga Sutras) truthfulness, or satya,  is the second most important attribute to maintain in society. It is well known that telling the truth is common sense. However, the line gets foggy when the truth could potentially hurt someone, going against Patanjali’s first and most important attribute, ahimsa/non-harming.  These attributes, otherwise known as yamas, are in order for a reason and it is always most important to uphold any yama coming before the other. Thus… non-harming is always the priority over truth. So, do we always need to tell the truth? Yes. UNLESS  it is going to hurt someone.

This leads us to the age-old scenario of the uncomfortable question…  “Does my butt look big?”  (substitute any of the following questions here…“Do I look fat?” Do you like/did you notice… my hair cut?” “How do you feel about my parents?” “Is she/he prettier then me?” (DONT EVER ASK THIS) “Is this delicious?” add infinitum…)

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Donna Farhi* says:

The yamas are broken down into five “wise characteristics.” Rather than a list of dos and don’ts, “they tell us that our fundamental nature is compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.” 

Satya – Commitment to Truthfulness 
Satya means “to speak the truth,” yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa. This precept is based on the understanding that honest communication and action form the bedrock of any healthy relationship, community, or government, and that deliberate deception, exaggerations, and mistruths harm others. 

Hmmmm…..    Really? While studying in India with Rishikesh Yog Peeth, my class was flabbergasted when we heard this come seriously from Bhaskar’s (our philosophy teacher’s) mouth. He said, “Don’t tell the truth if it is going to hurt someone… ever.” We all looked around quizzically… puzzled by our gurus meaning.

“Soooo, you want us…to lie?”  This obviously seemed like a huge no-no in yogic tradition.

No. You don’t lie. You say this….”My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear.”                  Got it? One more time. The correct answer to the question “Do I look fat in this dress?” Is either…. “NO. You do NOT look fat. You look BEAUTIFUL!” Unless of course, she doesn’t.

If it is after the holidays and she has put on a few pounds and you DON’T think she looks beautiful, you should not tell her this… because that would hurt her feelings (duh).  SO what you say is….

satya

“My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear.”

If this brings on a surge of questions, simply reply the same awkward sentence again and perhaps again until she backs off. THIS approach is the most yogic. 😉

After fully believing most of my life that honesty is the best approach, no matter what… I find this hard to believe. I’d like to say that as a women, I want to hear the truth. On the other hand I want the truth to be that my man thinks I look beautiful. How do you want to be treated? With the truth no matter what? With a little white lie? Or would silence or the response “My eyes cannot speak, my ears cannot see, my lips cannot hear “ suffice?

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*Donna Farhi. Yoga Mind, Body, Spirit.  pg 7, 9