As part of my deep dive into the Yamas of yoga, I wanted to post an article discussing Satya which means truthfulness. I want to first of all discuss what it is, and then see if we can figure out what it means in our daily lives.
Non-falsehood, or truthfulness, might seem obvious but lets just lay it out a little so we're all on the same page. Satya is one of the Yamas laid out in the Yoga Sutra, which details the teachings of Patanjali. The Yamas are restraints that yoga practitioners are encouraged to incorporate into daily life.
So from this, we can first glean that Satya is more about what we should not do than what we should. It is associated with restraint rather than action.
So, does Satya just mean not lying? Does it mean not lying in circumstances where the truth is harmful or hurtful? Does it mean something completely different? Or is it all of the above? Well, let's break this down a little bit. Firstly, not lying would definitely fit in with truthfulness - not lying to others OR to ourselves (which can be the hard bit!). How about not lying in circumstances the truth is hurtful? Well, say your friend gets a new haircut which you don't think suits them, and they ask what you think. Is it better to lie, or be honest and potentially hurt their feelings? Or is it better to come up with something vaguely neutral instead? Does it depend on the friend?
This is where Satya starts to become a little harder than we possibly first thought it might be on first glance. We've all been in that situation where we haven't wanted to hurt someone's feelings, such as that unflattering haircut, or we've felt like saying the honest thing would potentially open a can of worms we aren't willing or able to deal with. If we tell a 'white lie', we are not being honest with our friend, possibly for the greater good, and are not being honest with ourselves. Not being honest with ourselves can create damage within, but is it greater or less than the damage caused by upsetting a friend? Would it be better to not tell a white lie, but not hurt our friend by searching for something positive about the haircut or saying something like "oh I love that it's made you so happy and confident!".
These are things we may have to constantly wrestle with as we work our way along a spiritual path. New situations arise regularly that might require us to revisit our previous decision on Satya, or to decide which path is the least damaging, for ourselves and others. There may be situations where it is more obvious what to do, but there may be other where it is not. Is it good to be truthful with someone about something they are doing that you believe will be bad for them, risking their anger and hurt, or is it better to lie by omission?
I have found, from personal experience, that lying to ourselves can cause a lot of internal turmoil and emotional upset. Lying to ourselves is not always something we are even aware of. It can be something like consistently not asking for something we need because we do not want to bother others, or not telling someone that something they do often upsets or hurts us. We may tell ourselves it is not a big deal, or that we do not want to hurt others, yet it results in hurting ourselves instead. Part of practising Satya is not lying to ourselves and not hurting ourselves, and it is something that can be a tough balancing act - does being truthful to ourselves hurt others, and would that end up hurting us more? It's not something that is easy to answer!
None of the Yamas as 'easy' once we start to look a bit deeper and delve under the surface, but Satya is definitely something that I end up wrestling with more than some of the others. Each new situation can cause a new internal debate on what is the best way forward.
I find, for me, that Satya and Ahimsa tie in quite closely. Ahimsa, as you might remember from a previous post, is non-harm. Clearly one of the reasons we struggle with truthfulness is that desire to not harm others. One thing we need to be aware of though, is whether our desire to not harm others harms us.
I'm eager to hear what you guys think about Satya - do you find it an ongoing balancing act or do you find it easy? Maybe it's something you've not thought about before but want to delve a bit deeper. Feel free to comment or hit me up on Facebook or Instagram.
As always, namaste
I want to apologise for not posting any new articles the last few weeks. I do want to have regular content up here for you all, and have a lot of future articles planned out, but unfortunately personal events conspired to take my focus away from this website and my social media so a lot of things have got away from me.
I'm starting to get more onto an even keel emotionally again (although the situation is still ongoing!) and am feeling mentally ready and able to get back to articles and posting on social media. So here is my comeback post! I have learnt a few things this past few weeks, or maybe just re-remembered them, and want to share them with you while saying "Yes I'm still here".
One thing I've learnt in my yoga teacher training, in meditation training, in self-learning and reading, is the important of mindfulness, of being fully present in the moment and of behaving consciously rather than acting on instinct. All important beneficial stuff of course. I have always, since I learnt this, made an effort to do this on a daily basis despite. That's not to say it was always easy, we all have those stressful periods that can throw us off, but I always made as much of an effort as possible to do this.
Now...this all worked really well for me through the minor stresses in daily life, and even worked for my when my stepmother passed away and my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. It wasn't as easy to do, I won't lie, but it still kept me going, able to cope and as zen as possible under the circumstances. So far so good, I smugly thought, I'm doing great. Then the universe decided to throw me a curveball!
I'm not going to go into all my personal tribulations, but long story short my husband and I are separating. The relationship had not been working for a long time but I was the one who called it quits on things. We have been together for 10 years and I thought we would grow old together, work through any issues and come out stronger. Obviously this is now not happening and I have been dealing with a lot of guilt for ending it, a lot of stress from the practical side of it and a lot of mourning for the future that I now won't have.
For a few weeks I was all over the place, my personal yoga practice fell down my priority list, meditation fell off my priority list and mindfulness was coming right at the bottom.
Once the initial 2 or 3 weeks passed and I started getting used to my new state...I really noticed the difference in my mental and physical health from dropping yoga, meditation and manfulness down my list. I felt physically worse than even in terms of my fibromyalgia, my IBS was playing up from stress and mentally I felt terrible. I didn't recognise myself!
So, I learnt of the extent of the benefits of these from the absence of them. I knew they were beneficial don't get me wrong, but it was the absence that made me see the full extent and how much of an impact they had on my life. Once I started back again, slowly, I noticed a huge positive difference.
I also learnt the importance of being kind to myself. Not beating myself up that I had let these things slip, or that I wasn't as "good" as I should be. I just accepted that life had happened, that I had reacted in a totally understandable way, that I had done my best and that I was going to get through it.
I understand life can be heard, and implementing things like mindfulness and meditation can be hard during hard times. Believe me though, when I say that doing your best to keep them going in a way that serves you can help you get through the hard times. It's important to hold on to things that serve and benefit you, and that make you happy. It's also important to be gentle with yourself in times when life is being anything but!
I have missed you all and am so glad to be back writing articles and posting for you guys. I'm excited to hear your comments on these articles and posts, and if you have any requests get in touch!
As always, namaste.
I'm a yoga fanatic who been practising yoga for 22 years and teaching for almost 4. I'm quite spiritual, a bit of a hippy to be honest, and love discussing theoretical aspects of yoga as well as the practical elements. You'll find articles on how yoga benefits my life on both a physical, mental and emotional level, as well as how it can help you - as well as some non-yoga related articles just to keep you on your toes!