Archive for the ‘coffee’ Category

Satya Will Set You Free (sutra 2.36)

After teaching a corporate yoga class the other morning, I decided to head to the Clarendon Starbucks (sorry, Arlington, VA for those reading unfamiliar with the DC area) to grab a warm drink and read.  I had about 20 minutes to kill before heading to my private client’s house around the corner so I decided to sit.

After sitting at the community table (i.e. a long table with multiple strangers, each doing their own thing), I stood up to put my coat on, my book in my bag and exit.  The guy across from me said “that was fast”.  The guy’s friend just smiled politely.  Then the “guy” said “so you’re a yoga instructor?”  (side note:  Clearly this “guy”  just eavesdropped on a conversation I had moments before with someone who I use to work with eons ago at MCI.  The ex-MCI colleague happen to recognize me as he was making his departure.  He stopped and we caught up on jobs, life, stuff.)

The conversation with the guy/stranger went like this:

-guy:  I have a “good” friend who’s a yoga instructor.  He’s been teaching yoga “for like 12 years”.

-me:  “Oh really, what’s his name?”

-guy: (Long silence with his eyes squinting, and his friend & me staring at him)

-guy’s friend:  “I thought you said he was your friend???”

-me:  “…a good friend?”

-guy:  “His name is XXX”  (me here:  I don’t remember the name).  Then the “guy” continues to say “I wasn’t expecting you to ask for his name so quickly”.

-me:  “Well, I don’t know him (with a smile).  Have a nice weekend.”

As I walked away, I was thinking what kind of “good” friend was this…someone he met on the metro once and never saw again.  Or maybe he’s just a facebook friend.  And as we all know, facebook has somewhat become a violation of satya…I mean take inventory of how many of your “facebook friends” are truly friends vs. acquaintances.  I am at full violation here.  Do you think I really have 600+ friends?

Anyway, on the walk to my car after this brief Starbucks encounter I felt lied to.  Here I didn’t even know the “guy” nor his Starbucks friend (or the yoga instructor).  I’m assuming he was trying to impress me but why?  Suddenly I felt sorry for the “guy”.  If he’s telling a little white lie to a stranger, then what types of lies does he tell his “real” friends or even just facebook friends?

Why?  Why tell a lie even if it’s small and meaningless?  Coincidentally, I had a copy of The Yoga Sutras in hand (that was the book I had been sitting in Starbucks reading & placing in my bag as the “guy” tried to name his yoga instructor friend).  In hindsight, I should have opened it up and read sutra 2.36 that specifically speaks about satya (satya is Sanskrit for truth)…“To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.” 

More on satya (truth) as explained further by Swami Satchidananda in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali“The more we lead a life of honesty, the more we will see the results, and that will encourage us to be more honest.  With establishment in honesty, the state of fearlessness comes.  One need not be afraid of anybody and can always lead an open life.  When there are no lies, the entire life becomes an open book.  But this comes only with an absolutely honest mind.  When the mind becomes clear and serene, the true Self reflects without disfigurement, and we realize the Truth in its own original nature.”

Start with your words.  Think the truth.  Speak the truth and then your actions will be true.  From there (with practice & patience), you’ll stand in your truth.  Trust me, satya/sutra 2.36 is a big sutra to fill and I often catch myself telling the little white lie.  So I must say:  thank you Starbucks “guy” for reminding me to speak the truth, act the truth and live the truth.     

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Stumped by sutra 4.19

The mind-stuff is not self-luminous because it is an object of perception by the Purusha.  sutra 4.19  (Purusha is known as the individual soul, divine Self in all beings)  

I knew there would come a time during my 2012 yoga sutra journey/writing when I would be completely stumped.  Well that day is here.  The truth is the day actually happened a couple of weeks ago.  I kept thinking if I held off on this posting something inspiring would show up in my life that could help me relate to sutra 4.19.  Unfortunately, I have yet to have an “aha!” moment.  Rather than waiting, I figured I would just be honest and say “I’m stumped”.

As I sat in my local Arlington/neighborhood coffee shop one morning (again, nearly two weeks ago), I decided I would randomly flip through one of my sutra texts with my eyes closed.  Where ever my finger landed that would be the sutra I would contemplate and blog about for that week.  As I did this, probably looking odd doing it in public, I recalled this was a tactic used with a Bible in the memoir Running with Scissors.  It seemed to work well in the book.  They even had a catchy name for it — Bible surfing???  So I figured what the heck, I’ll try sutra surfing.

As you may have already sensed, “sutra surfing” didn’t turn out so well for me.  Though I somewhat understand what sutra 4.19 means, I don’t know how to apply it or have yet to see/feel it in my everyday life.  Needless to say, I am totally stumped and don’t have any personal insight to share.

Add to this, I haven’t really delved deep into Book 4 of The Yoga Sutras.  All I can do is take my “stumpedness” (a made-up Melody word) as a sign…I need to get my head out of Books 1 & 2 and move on.  I’ve been so intrigued with the first two books of The Yoga Sutras.  Every time I venture further, I end up back in the beginning.  As my practice of concentration and meditation have deepened over this past year, I have dabbled in Book 3 and glanced through Book 4.  Yet it almost never fails…I end up back at the beginning (i.e. in either Book 1 or 2).

Personally, I believe the first two Books of The Yoga Sutras just have so much rich and applicable instruction to help us find peace with the obstacles we face daily on our journey in life.  I guess my message is if you’re overwhelmed (aka stumped!) by the sutras, stick with Books 1 & 2 for a while.  For many, including myself, that is probably enough in this lifetime.

Note to self:  The next time I attempt “sutra surfing”, it will be more towards the middle of the text-book while I cross my fingers on the other hand hoping I land in either Book 1, 2 or 3.

Attachment (sutra 2.7)

Attachment is that which follows identification with pleasurable experiences.     sutra 2.7

Pretty straightforward sutra, right?  The tricky part of attachment is how sneaky it is in our lives.  The action/object/tendency we’re attached to starts out as a simple moment of joy.  And then we repeat the action seeking the same positive experience it originally created.   Next thing you know, we become attached to the experience triggered by the object/action/tendency.  And then the attachment becomes so ingrained in us and we can’t imagine life without the action/object/tendency.  It’s a sneaky, vicious cycle.

The easiest example I can think of is coffee (or whatever your wake-up beverage of choice is).  I visit Starbucks almost every morning.  By stating this, clearly it appears I am attached to my morning coffee.  Well I can be for sure and so are many, many, many others I’ve observed.  For me, it’s not so much the caffeine I am attached to (because I do 1/2 decaf and some days just go without the Starbucks visit).  It’s more of the warm sensation/experience coffee offers my body (physical attachment).  I also enjoy sitting in Starbucks writing…the environment seems to help get my creative juices flowing (mental attachment).

Though when I was on the Dharma diet during my Dharma Mittra 500-hour yoga teacher training last Fall, coffee was banned.  My morning ritual became hot water with lemon and a special Dharma smoothie.  The first few days were tough but I actually got really used to the hot water lemon concoction —it gave me the warming sensation.  I also discovered that not only was I saving $2 a day by not going to Starbucks (plus the gas money), I had more time in the mornings to sit for meditation, writing, or whatever I wanted to do.   And that’s the sneaky part of attachment…when we start to clearly see their hold on us, we realize how much of our time, energy and resources we are sacrificing in exchange for great hopes of a repeat pleasurable experience.  We start to believe we need it to make us happy and we are willing to do whatever it takes.

Inside the Yoga Sutras (p. 110) elaborates on sutra 2.7.  “Attachments are limitations that always result in deepening or maintaining ignorance (avidya).  They are cravings that deny the peace and joy of our Self by insisting that outside experiences are the root of happiness.

The Yoga Sutras state it.  The Buddha said it.  We have everything we need inside ourselves to be happy.  Yet in this consumer-driven materialistic world, how can we ever experience this?  My suggestion…try eliminating for 7 days just one thing that you do daily/eat daily/drink daily/etc.  Observe how you feel without it.  Observe what you do in lieu of it.  Observe the positive and negative changes it has on your physical body.  Observe your emotional state.  Pay attention.  You might discover you’re happier and healthier without it.