Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To thine own self be true

Satya pratishthayam kriya phala shrayatvam.  
Upon being established in truth, there is surety in the result of actions.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

I've been reading a passage a day from a book by Rolf Gates called Meditations from the Mat.  I'm sure I've mentioned it once or twice before on the blog.  It's designed to be a kind of yoga devotional, where you read one passage a day (there are 365 passages/days within the book).  It's the perfect accompaniment to my morning meditation, and it's the perfect way to reacquaint myself with the Yoga Sutras and other yoga philosophy at a leisurely pace and with Gates's fantastic, personal, truthful, clear writing.

He's started to dive into the yamas, the "thou shalt nots" of yoga.  The most recent one he's been exploring has been Satya, or truth.  There are many different ways to tell the truth - or not to.  Being true to yourself, however, I think is where it starts and is by far, in my view, the most important.  How can you be true and truthful with others if you're not true to yourself?

As I've been reading these daily passages on Satya for the last week or so, it's gotten me thinking about the areas in my life most affected by my own personal satya.  In my post Happiness Project frenzy of improving my life, I came up with lots of possible answers, but the most obvious one was the subject of money:  how I spend it, earn it, feel about it, relate to it, and organize it.

This brings me to yet another book - Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez, and Monique Tilford.  The original edition was published in 1992, and an updated version came out in 2008, which is the one that I read.  Having never really read any books about money before, I had no idea how absolutely perfect this one would turn out to be in helping me discover my personal truths about my relationship with money.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Your Money or Your Life has a brilliant way of breaking down our society's relationship with money, with consumerism, with debt, and with savings.  The most important way it does that is by giving you steps to make yourself totally, completely, 100% aware of the money you have made in your life, the money and other property value you currently have (even if you feel, like, me that you have no property value), and the money that comes in and goes out of your life every day.

Consciousness is the key to the book.  I believe consciousness and awareness are the key to becoming truthful about anything in your life.  Money is a great tool through which to view satya because it's so easy to either deliberately lie to ourselves about it or ignore issues as they come up.  The restaurant bill that was a lot bigger than you expected but it's forgotten as soon as you sign for it.  Going crazy at a clothing sale just becomes another line on the credit card statement.  You go to take money out of the ATM and realize you don't have as much as you thought.  These little things happen to pretty much all of us at least every once and a while if not on a regular basis.  It's easy to feel like it all just snuck up on you when suddenly one day you peek through the fog for a moment to see the reality of what you have, and then you think...well, it's okay.  Money's not everything, I'll make more next week, I'll download a budget app and then it'll be okay.

 I'm not rambling about money to prove a point about money, or to judge anyone (including myself) for how great or not-so-great our spending and saving habits may be.  The point is satya.  It can be very scary to face financial realities, but if we don't face them, the first person we hurt is ourselves.  If you have a family to support, other people wind up hurt as well.  It's not always fun or easy to get real with yourself about money, but it's always worth it in the end because you can rest in your own knowledge of where you stand, for better or worse.

I realize this is probably a terrible metaphor for you if you keep excellent financial records and have a great relationship with money, but it's the one that works best for me at the moment.  This can apply to relationships with people, with our jobs, with our health.  People who don't go to the doctor for years and then suddenly have to face a terrible diagnosis weren't being true to themselves by not going to the doctor and keeping themselves in ignorance.  It's comparable to a lie of omission, only the person you're lying to is yourself.

We can make a choice every single day to invite more truth into every aspect of our lives.  What part of your life could benefit from the practice of satya?

"We must not be afraid to follow the truth no matter where it may lead."
Thomas Jefferson


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