The Yamas - Satya: Truthfulness in a World of Deception
True Essence, Pure, Reality
'To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient’ -
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, II.36
The word ‘sat’ has many meanings and can translate to things like:
- true essence
- that which is beyond distinctions of time, space and person; and
Satya / Truthfulness, is another one of the the Yamas - five concepts, within the 1st Limb of Yoga / within the 8 Limbs of Yoga - that helps us deepen our relationship with the external world. relationship with the external world, by increasing the amount of honest thoughts, words and actions we have intentionally or unintentionally with ourselves, others and the planet.
These five concepts are:
- Ahmisa/ NonViolence
- Satya/ Truthfulness
- Asteya/ NonStealing
- Brahmacharya/ NonExcess
- Aparigraha/ NonAttachment
In this blog, I will be sharing everything you need to know about the second Yama and how it can improve your life.
Brief Yoga History: Yoga Sutras + 8 Limbs of Yoga
The true meaning of Yoga is the union of body, mind, soul, and spirit to reduce suffering.
According to the practice, we often suffer because of not knowing our true Self and the illusion of separation of our individual consciousness from Universal Consciousness.
So taking a step back... where do the Yamas come from?
The Yoga Sutras contain 196 verses, which discuss the aim of yoga and how you strive for freedom, liberation and self-realization - the 8th Limb of Yoga, also called Samadhi.
The Yoga Sutras were transcribed by a man (and most likely many of his colleagues and students) named Patanjali, presumably from India, living somewhere between the 2nd and 4th century BC, and act as a practical guide to assist you on your journey of remembering the ultimate union.
According to the Sutras, beginning the pursuit of self-realization is the most significant step in life – as they make us aware of our pitfalls and how to overcome them.
So why would we not be truthful or pure to ourselves or anything else?
Yoga philosophy says this type of thinking, speaking and behavior happens when we are experiencing too many negative fluctuations of the mind.
These can be things like:
- Over-identification with the ego
- Over-attachment to people, places, things or ideas
- Fear of change or independence
This type of negative mind chatter, vrittis, or fluctuations of the mind, cause us to not always think, speak, feel and act with our purest intentions consciously or unconsciously.
When this happens, we might find it difficult to SEE things as they TRULY are, and this can create problems, challenges, and suffering in our lives and the world around us.
Honesty and the ability to clearly observe reality requires space, silence, stillness and opportunities to nourish yourself on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level.
“The golden flame at the heart of Satya, glows with love, compassion, and integrity. The mind in the brain, with all of it's turbidity, often clouds Satya, but the wisdom of the heart is pure and truthful” - Bhava Ram
Can we connect deeper with our hearts?
Satya asks us to connect deeper with the heart so we can un-identify with irrational thoughts and emotions, practice taking some time observing them as they rise, and then allowing them to pass without attaching to them.
This then helps us to think, speak, act more rationally with more love to ourselves, others and the world around us.
This can be a challenging thing to commit to, as we might think it's impossible to not be judged by others, or think we may hurt or disappoint others by being truthful in certain moments.
But this is also NOT TRUE.
Not being truthful can be much more harmful and damaging to our physical, mental and emotional health and to our loved ones. The key here is patience, intention and deliverance.
SATYA also asks us to remember the 1st Yama, Ahimsa/ NonViolence and to be KIND when delivering the truth.
If the truth is going to hurt yourself or others unnecessarily, then consider whether or not anything is actually needed of you in that moment.
It can also be beneficial to observe the motives behind our thoughts, words and actions. Do they truly serve the moment with nourishment, integrity and love, or are you speaking or acting because of a need to prove or gain something, ego, greed, fear, sadness or anger?
So how do we begin to practice Satya?
We begin by practicing on our mats.
Our bodies, breath, thoughts and emotions on the mat (in a public yoga class or on our own) are a direct example of our embodiment of yoga, it's philosophy and the union it desperately wants us to experience.
Once we establish a consistent practice on the mat, it then becomes easier to allow the concepts to seap into the moments of our every day lives.
Examples of practicing Satya ON & OFF your mat include:
ON The Mat:
- Can we be truthful about our abilities on the mat? Physical, mental, emotional & spiritual.
- Do we push past our physical limits risking injury?
- Can we be truthful about why we are practicing yoga? Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual benefits, enhancing life, improved relationships, etc?
- What are you striving for in each pose? Breath regulation and a balance of effort and ease, or the most challenging variation of the pose?
- Can we be truthful about our emotions on the mat?
- Can we be truthful about what we need on the mat? A relaxing or energizing experience?
- Can we prioritize our breath, keeping it consistent, deep and audible in every moment? Breath is the direct reflection of reality.
- Are we comparing our body and poses to others in the room or to a previous version of ourself?
- Do we use props to support our practice to go deeper, or do we let our ego tell you that you don't need props?
OFF The Mat:
- Can we be honest with ourselves about our wants, desires and how we want to contribute to the world?
- Can we be honest with others: partners, friends, family, coworkers, strangers?
- Is the truth causing unnecessary harm to ourselves or others?
- Are our intentions pure?
- Are we ok with life changing directions or not meeting expectations?
Benefits of practicing Satya
There is a great freedom in being able to be who we really are, rather than hiding behind a mask of what we think others expect us to be.
It allows us to be more spontaneous, more in tune with our creative intuitive side, and, ultimately, more open to explore the deepest truth of all—Self-realization. As we remove the layers of our cultural and personal conditioning, we expand our beliefs to allow new perspectives, and as we clear inner spaces, we catch more and more glimpses of our true Self.
When we are true to ourselves, others can trust that we will be honest with them, and we'll strengthen our relationships within and externally.
Additional benefits include:
- Exudes vibrations of love and peace
- Increases willpower and acceptance
- Generates mental fortitude
- Cultivates courage and confidence
- Helps to overcome anger, fears and insecurities
- Expands our sense of belonging and purpose
- Improves our relationships with the self and with others
- Increases patience, compassion, empathy, communication
- Reduces conflict and stress which helps to achieve peace of mind
Mantra and Active Meditation Technique for Satya
The Asato Maa mantra from the Upanishads is used by many practitioners as a daily acknowledgment of moving towards truth:
- Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya - Lead me from the unreal to the real
- Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya - From darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge)
- Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya - From death to immortality
Would you like to start embodying these amazing concepts to enhance your life and the lives around you?
Check out my 8 Limbs Yoga Tribe!
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