In previous posts, we looked at ahimsa (non-violence), asteya (non-stealing), and brahmacharya (moderation). This post will explore living an honest and truthful life through yoga, meditation, and the practice of satya.
Many people who hail from Westernized cultures are under the impression that yoga is merely physical exercise. Yes, that is a component. And an important one, to be sure.
However, the physical postures (or asana as they’re known in Sanskrit) are only one step on an eight-limbed path toward purifying the body and mind. They are, in fact, the third step.
The foundation, or first limb, is comprised of the yamas (social restraints), while the second limb is the niyamas (self-disciplines). These are the ethical principles that guide us in how we relate to ourselves and others.
Practicing Satya for Living an Honest and Truthful Life
The yamas were developed thousands of years ago in ancient texts. At one time, they were viewed as mandatory vows for anyone embarking on the yogic path.
Today, in our more contemporary and secular society, they are considered less as rigid directives and more as valuable tools to help deepen our self-awareness – both on the yoga mat and off.
The literal translation of satya from Sanskrit is “truthfulness.” This is more than just “not lying.” It calls for both viewing and reporting situations as they are, as opposed to how we would like them to be.
Satya asks us to recognize the fears and negative emotions that drive us to react in such a way that twists reality. Armed with this understanding and recognition, we can begin to realign or thoughts, speech, and action with the truth.
So how can we practice satya in our lives? By doing the following:
Constantly Question Yourself
Take some time each day, if you can, to be introspective. Ponder who you are and how you’re making a difference on the planet. Do you have a sense of your purpose for the time you’re here? If not, don’t worry! It comes with practice.
Even just five or ten minutes of meditation or mindful movement each day can help you reframe and gain a new perspective on your life. For example, if you’re in a dead-end job that you don’t like, what’s keeping you there? Could it be time for a change?
The truth can be scary. But it’s also liberating.
Notice Limiting Beliefs You Have About Yourself
When you spend time each day taking an introspective inventory, don’t be surprised if you notice limiting beliefs you have about yourself.
Perhaps in the above question about the dead-end job, you responded that you’re not smart enough to do something else. But where is that coming from? Just one single adult telling you that you weren’t smart when you were a child could have been enough to form that belief. But what about all of the words of wisdom from other adults?
Stay vigilant in noticing and acknowledging those limiting beliefs. These untruths very well may be robbing you of living the life that’s yours to live and keeping you from reaching your potential.
Consider What You’re Going to Say
Satya encourages speaking the truth. That’s not a free pass to say whatever you want, whenever you want though. You may have true words you want to speak. But before you do so, consider this Sufi saying:
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At the first gate, ask yourself “Is it true?”
At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”
At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
If what you are about to say does not illicit a positive response for all three of those questions, then it’s best to not speak those words.
Also, be careful about speaking just for the sake of venting. While it can be cathartic to air your grievances, if it’s not done in the spirit of productively working toward a solution, you can easily get stuck in a cycle of negativity and victimhood.
The bottom line?
If your speech offers no improvements and/or, even worse, creates hurt, then speaking the truth benefits no one. Least of all you. Even if you’re speaking what you deem to be the truth.
Explore Your Current Relationships
Are you carrying around extra baggage with relationships that no longer serve you?
It’s all too easy to stay in a long-term relationship out of familiarity. And of course, you can’t just walk away from certain relationships. But you can certainly limit or even cease contact or with those who don’t support you in living an honest and truthful life.
Furthermore, think about your favorite people; those who serve as your support systems and closest friends. Are you making assumptions in these relationships that are no longer valid? By going inward, relaxing, and becoming calm, you can ponder these relationships and all their intricacies to arrive at deeper truths.
Truthfulness on the Yoga Mat
When you consciously come to the yoga mat with an intention to honor where you are each day without judgment or criticism, the practice takes on new power. You begin to uncover truths about yourself. And yeah, some of these can be uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, as we mentioned above, there’s often a solitary focus on just the physical aspect of the practice. Facebook and Instagram are littered with “yogis” showing off postures in photos and videos in an attempt to get praise.
This is not satya.
Now, this isn’t to say that you should never put a yoga pose on social media. It comes down to intention. When you settle onto your mat, you want to be able to disconnect from the outer world to move inward. It’s difficult to find your true self if you’re instead pondering your next selfie.
Living an Honest and Truthful Life Is Possible
No matter what your situation, with determination and commitment, you can start living an honest and truthful life.
Reach out to us to find out about our mobile yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and life-coaching services. We work with individuals as well as with companies, organizations, and schools – offering both virtual and in-person sessions.
Whether life has kicked you to the curb or you simply want to refine a practice of truthfulness, we’re here to help.