To thine own self, be true, and it must follow, as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.
Satya, a Sanskrit word,means truthfulness. It follows ahimsa, which means nonviolence. We focused on it in Lesson Nineteen. Satya is the second practice we learn in the Yamas, restraints or ethical guidelines on the path of yoga. So, if you thought yoga was merely a bunch of unusual poses with the body, with some ways of breathing thrown in, you have missed the essence of yoga.
Yoga is and has always been, a spiritual path teaching us to love ourselves, to release the illusion of duality and to reach a state of union with Divine Love and Consciousness. Yoga is rich in its age-old wisdom. The classic text, codified by a writer named Patanjali, the Yoga Sutras, offers a clear and brilliant road map for learning to live in the world but transcend it at the same time.
In this course of 52 weeks, I promised to show how yoga and other spiritual paths lead us to the awareness of the True Self, the eternal core of our being that is ever blissful. This week, we introduce the concept of Truthfulness (Satya) and how you will be lighter and happier as your authentic self emerges more fully.
LESSON TWENTY FIVE
THE YAMAS: TRUTHFULNESS (SATYA)
Can we be consistently truthful in all activities of our lives? Is it possible that we are congruent in these three aspects — thought, word, and deed? In other words, do we have the courage and fortitude to be honest under all circumstances? This is, for most of us, a very tall order. You see, it goes beyond avoiding little white lies, it means being ourselves on all occasions.
When I first began practicing this “limb” of yoga, I actually thought it was about not lying. I did not recognize the depth of meaning. Then I heard people talk about the notion that, as Shakespeare said of being true to oneself, it meant being consistent under all circumstances. People spoke of the dilemma of acting in one way with certain people and in another with others. Which one was going to show up, depending on the company? And further, if one projected a certain persona, then switched to another, how was it possible to remember which character was being played and with whom? Putting on an act can be quite exhausting and confusing. Better to be authentic in all environments.
The same goes for telling lies. It seems that some people are very adept at fabricating stories, not just on occasion, but almost all the time. How they can keep track of their many stories confounds me, yet some are very good at it. The concept of Truthfulness for them is unfathomable; it seems they are addicted to lying and often actually believe their stories.
Let’s consider some ways to analyze where we fit on the truthfulness scale. Caution! I am asking you to avoid turning this into a way to experience guilt or self-criticism. We are witnessing who we are in a non-judgmental way; this is merely a beginning point for making your life easier and more fulfilling. A way to feel comfortable in your own skin.
- When you are alone, are you a different person than the one who engages with others? Can you accept and love yourself in every setting?
- Do you find it necessary to play one role in certain company and another when with other people? If you do this, how does it feel when you are different from the one you are when you are alone?
- Do you feel the need to stretch or alter the truth in your conversation? If so, why? How do you feel?
- Do you think about who you should be, playing a role to be nice, but not necessarily real. Do you make a habit of distorting or silencing yourself to please others? (This was one of my challenges. Many women, myself included, are people pleasers. I learned this early in my life.)
- Are you able to speak truth in uncomfortable situations while still remembering to engage non-violence and compassion? Do you think before you speak so that what you say does no harm to another? (Pausing, taking a breath, and witnessing yourself are all helpful.)
- On the subject of lying — do you find that you have difficulty being truthful about who you are and how you behave? Can you honestly evaluate yourself without placing harsh judgments at the same time?
Give yourself time to ponder these thoughts. It may not be easy, but I promise you that it is worthwhile.
When I began writing this blog and sharing my beliefs and my personal life as a yogi, I knew that I was making a break through into Truthfulness. Still, I sometimes felt vulnerable and worried about the response to so clearly stating these ideas. I knew that some of my friends had little awareness of what I really believe. So this has been an adventure into exposing my authentic self, and it has been liberating.
I hope that you too will feel this liberation. It is, I think, a courageous act and very worthwhile. And, best of all, you will learn to love yourself even more in the process.
If you have comments or questions or have insights during this process, I am here to help!
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more writings, go to http://www.deannemincer.com