Today, let's start to unpack the second of the Yamas, Satya. Yamas, if you are just tuning in, are the vows of things we shouldn't do as yogis walking the yogic path. They are not rules necessarily, nor sins, and no one is looking down on you to make sure you are always behaving. They do however, when followed, make the path toward a more peaceful and fulfilling life much easier to obtain. Perhaps we can say, in order to feel a little bit of 'heaven on earth' it helps to heed their guidance.
Satya translates from sanskrit as truthfulness or simply truth. With that being said, this yama is typically referred to as a guidance to always speak your truth, a.k.a don't lie. That's rather over simplified, but equally very important. We all tell little white lies from time to time whether that is to protect someone from something, cover up and hide something we don't want to reveal, or simply just to take the easy way out of a situation. For example, your friend invites you around for dinner and when you get there, you find out what she made is your least favorite meal in the world. Literally makes you yack. You take a few bites to be polite and say you are not hungry, leaving your plate mostly full. Later, she catches you ordering a pizza on your way home because you are actually ravenous and she get's offended.
We do it all the time. But sometimes the little white snowflake of a lie snowballs into something much bigger, and causes discomfort and distress for yourself and/ or others. For instance, you take the day off work because you are 'ill', yet your partner was off work and you just wanted to take advantage of that time and the unusually good weather. He posts a picture on Facebook, not knowing your little scheme, and suddenly your boss has liked the picture. Do you think you would rest easy that night? Perhaps the rest of the day is spent riddled with the anxiety of facing your boss the next day and owning up to your deceit. Perhaps the relationship of trust has been broken, and that is a difficult repair job.
Lies also come in the form of exaggeration. This is something I really became aware of myself as I can be a bit of a story teller sometimes. I literally catch myself on the spot and try to correct my story instantly. It's nothing serious, but I can easily say something like, " there were thousands of ants in my room today! Thousands, when really, maybe a dozen? Or Using words like never and always -we never go to the beach, when we were there just a few weeks ago, or we always have this for dinner. Clearly not true. I don't know why I do it, it's like a reflex - but I know even an innocent exaggeration is altering the truth, and when we alter the truth, it doesn't usually end in peace.
Truth always wins, and truth is always right. Or is it? What if you see your friend whom you haven't seen in a long time and you notice she's put on a lot of weight. Do you say "oh my goodness! You've gotten pudgy" or do you say " You look great!" or nothing at all? Or what if your child hands you a painting they lovingly made for you, and it's so bad, even the refrigerator refuses it. Do you tell them it's terrible, or do you thank them and tell them what a great job they've done? We have to be careful sometimes when we tell the truth, that's why it follows on from ahimsa. Before we go and just drop truth bombs all over the place, we should ask our selves - is it true, is it kind, is it necessary. Great rules to live by.
Now that we have looked at speaking your truth, what about living your truth. There's power in authenticity. I'm sure there have been points in our lives where we were trying to mimic someone eles, live their story, walk their path,dress like them, look like them, like what they like, be where they are. I think it's human nature, mimicry is how we learn after all. We start out life just copying the people around us and the expression is true, sometimes we have to fake it until we make it. However, eventually, we end up at some point getting a sense, a glimpse, of who we truly are. Usually that aha moment, happens when you are out of your comfort zone, and in a place where the cloak of conformity, maybe even society can drop away. For some, it's a natural side affect of aging. It seems that the younger we are the stronger the need to fit in is. We are social creatures and as we are still trying to figure out and develop our identity in our youth, it is much easier just adopting the identity and beliefs of our peers, our family and our culture.
As we get older, we have a little more understanding of what we like and dislike and what inspires us and lights us up, and what makes us feel bored and dull. But is it still that clear? Are we always authentic? Probably not. There are still social pressures we conform in some ways too, and then there are the pressures of all of our 'titles'. I am a mother, so I must be self-less, modest, always put my family first. I am a yoga teacher, so I must never loose my cool and I must always appear grounded and never stressed. I am a woman, so I must like certain things like fashion and cooking and all things pretty and pink. I am the strong one in the family, therefore I can not have moments of vulnerability. These are just some of the conditions we can find ourselves molded by. Software we have downloaded in which the computer of our mind operates on. But, we also know that feeling of when we are not coherent with what we are expected to be, and what our true beliefs and desires are. It's that feeling of being unfulfilled, lack of passion, that lack of sparkle. We know when we are not being ourselves, because we don't feel ourselves. Everything seems a little harder as if we were working against the current of life. When we are living from an authentic place, life flows and life grows.
Going within and connecting to our higher self is part of discovering and coming back to our authentic self. Challenging our belief systems and seeing if they are still relevant for us or out dated. Sitting with ourselves in meditation so that we can build an intimacy and deeper knowing. Sitting with the intention to drop the stories so only the truth is left behind. Sat is the Sanskrit word for true essence. The goal of yoga is to reveal this true essence so that we can get to the truth of who we are, behind the conditioning, the labels, the expectations, the costumes and masks. To speak truth, to seek truth and to live in truth - that's the intention, the reminder of Satya, the second yama.
Satnam my friends, go in truth. 🙏