Satya, is translated as truthfulness, and there’s something beautifully simple about it. Many of us were taught some version of it as a first lesson in morality when we were kids: “lying is wrong,” our parents probably instructed.
Over the centuries, volumes have been written about the meaning and value of truth and a lot of us have a beloved quote about the nature of honesty by our favorite writer, physicist, master, or philosopher. But actually practicing “truth” in a consistent way – both with others and ourselves – is a bit harder.
In fact, the simplicity of the truth concept pretty much fades away after a few minutes of thinking about what it means. What’s the point of truth or truth-telling after all? What’s the problem with not telling the truth? Are there any circumstances when we actually shouldn’t be truthful? And maybe the most challenging of all: What does being truthful with ourselves, as opposed to other people, actually entail?
What’s important to understand about the yamas is that they have to be conceptualized in relation to one another – they don’t exist as discrete entities but they interact with one another in important ways.
Satya speaks to the way we must work with the yamas and niyamas. A truthful application involves more than focusing on them singularly and in a vacuum; there is a dynamic interplay between them… In a sense, they incorporate a system of checks and balances.
One of the goals of yoga is to gain freedom from the “sufferings” in our lives – and to be free from them, we first have to accept them. Satya means being truthful and real about our shortcomings, our messes, and the places in our life where we have an opportunity to grow and transform. Yoga is about transformation. Yoga is about realizing freedom is already right here, right now. While a lot of people might have visions of yoga leading to some sort of ecstatic blissful state, more likely, and especially today, union is about waking up into your mess and connecting to the divinity within that. Looking honestly at parts of ourselves, what we may not be comfortable with is much easier if we remove the element of self-judgment that makes it so difficult. When we begin to see our problems with a little detachment, rather than judgment, it’s easier to address the internal issues (the “mess”) that we may have ignored in the past.
Sitting with unpleasantness and learning not to be consumed by it is a big part of yoga – both the physical and philosophical aspects. How do you integrate satya into your life? What happens when you don’t?
Written by: Alice G. Walton, PhD
'Is my "yes" coming from a dark corner or from the light in my heart?'