I am ‘friends’ on Facebook with most of the people I went to high school with. One of those is a guy who I remember as always being kind and respectful. He was the kind of guy that would change your flat tire, the kind of guy who made sure you were safe. I also remember him having a decent sense of humor. I don’t really know who this guy is now. Time changes us in good and bad ways. He often re-posts those memes floating around that are hateful or poke fun at someone who is different from his norm. Most often I don’t see these posts anymore because I went into my settings and changed the things I see posted. That guy recently had a birthday and I took a moment to wish him a happy birthday. He responded with a thank you and referred to me as a “sweet woman”. I told him that one of the best things about the internet is how it can be used to send good wishes and to encourage one another. I still want to believe that this man is kind and respectful, just maybe not so mindful about the things he posts.
I was reminded of satya when I attended a yoga class at work on a day I don’t usually attend classes. The teacher started the class with a lesson on this sanskrit word for truth. She talked about being true to yourself and your body on your mat. She talked about being kind to yourself. She talked about knowing your truth. This is not a new lesson for me. Satya is one of the five yamas, which are the ethical rules of yoga. Sort of a ‘right living’ manual. Satya can be interpreted simply as being to true to yourself. It can also be one of the yamas that could be studied deeply and can become very complicated. Satya follows the first yama, ahimsa, which is the practice of non-violence or simply, ‘do no harm’. We have to find ways of speaking our truths without causing harm to others. The practice of satya, off the mat, makes us more respectful and thoughtful.
The internet is a good place for the practice of satya. Other bloggers I follow (Chookooloonks and Elan Morgan) have been writing about creating ‘soft spaces’. On Monday, just days after the shooting that took place at a Pittsburg synagogue killing eleven people, there were 11,696 posts on Instagram containing #jewsdid911. Social media has become the most popular method for spreading hate speech, racism and misinformation. The President of the United States participates daily in the spread of hate and racism in his twitter feed. I have been struggling daily with the ugliness I see from the people in this country. I know of two wonderful women who have lost their husbands this month and my heart aches for them. I wish nothing more than to have the superpower to protect these women in their grief, to ease it for them in some way. I wish nothing more than to have the superpower to protect all of us from grief, hate, racism, the president.
I don’t have that kind of power, but I do have the power to create a soft space, a place of comfort to others. I do have the ability to speak my truth in a non-harmful way, respectful way. Let’s practice satya together.