Using a mirror to practice yoga postures can make us more connected to "physical reality", and it can also be distracting. If we are able to see our postures in a mirror and take our reflection at face value (i.e. without layering judgments on the reflection!), we notice when, for instance: a leg is not bent properly, we’re grimacing, or we’re back-bending unintentionally. However, it can be extremely difficult to do this. We generally don't stop at seeing our alignment and fixing it accordingly. Instead of looking at our reflection as an alignment scientist would, we notice the funny left toe we've never liked since childhood, how our pants and shirt don't match, that we wish our boobs were bigger - or that other parts were smaller!
Satya is a Sanskrit word which means “truth” or “reality” or "face value." This concept is found in the Yoga Sutras as an injunction to 'Speak the Truth' as an aspect of self-enlightenment. I'm sure anyone reading this has already given considerable thought to the importance of being honest, and their relationship to honesty. I am not going to expound on that here!
I would like to introduce a related term I learned at Landmark Education: Integrity. My understanding of the definition is: Doing what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it. In the case that you're not going to do what you said – or by the time you had said - letting everyone involved know that you’ve changed your intention, and what your new intention is. This definition of Integrity is compelling because it gets right to the heart of “Speaking the Truth.”
Before I learned the concept of "Integrity" as above, I had always considered myself an honest person. This deeper understanding made me second-guess my opinion of myself!
Specifically, I have always struggled with being on time. I used to say I would be somewhere at a certain time, and if I was running late, I wouldn't let the other person know, I would just show up late... I would feel bad about it, and sometimes even sick to my stomach. When I decided to try acting with Integrity, well, I was still usually late! But instead of trying to ignore it, I started calling the person I was meeting to let them know that I would be late, and give my new estimated time of arrival so they knew what to expect. Making those calls sometimes seems intimidating, but ALWAYS feels better in the end for all involved. A friend of mine who is also a student of truth and integrity exemplified this in a very sweet and simple way.
I stopped by this friend's house and invited him to go to coffee. He said: "I need to call my girlfriend first" because he had committed to her that he would not drink coffee during the weekdays that month. She was out of town and would have never known if he had a cup, but right in front of me he called her and said something like: "Honey, I know I said I wasn't going to drink coffee during the weekdays this month. I wanted to let you know I am changing my commitment to only drinking one cup per day."Whatever she responded made him laugh, and he smiled as he said: "I love you" and got off the phone. We went to coffee in Integrity with nothing to hide: Word matching deed. Harmonious. Empowered. Nothing misaligned.
This small example has stayed with me because it made me realize how many times I step over small lapses in my own integrity. This example shows me how effective it is to communicate simply, directly, and without drama. It’s creative and forward-moving. Acknowledging I won’t be doing what I said, and creating new expectations without justifying, defending, or over-apologizing. So freeing!
I'm still late sometimes. Even lots of times! (I know some of you reading this are smiling and nodding your heads) But my eyes are open to the way it effects others, and I take responsibility for that. Lining up my words with my intentions, and being brave enough to speak them to others. Just like I align my front knee over my ankle in the warrior poses. Feels so good and solid and righteous.