Living the teachings — understanding yoga’s everyday meanings
SATYA: THE PRACTICE OF HONESTY. By Sue Pugh
The yamas and niyamas provide a simple set of practical, ethical guidelines when following the yogic path. The second yama, ‘satya’, focuses on truthfulness and is about so much more than simply not telling lies. It focuses on being honest with ourselves, about who we are and living our truth, rather than hiding behind a mask. Carl Jung asks us to consider: “Is my ‘yes’ coming from a dark corner or from the light in my heart?” He also asks us to ponder on whether it is better to be seen as nice or real. Real may not always be pleasing, but it is trustworthy. When you speak your truth in a kindly way, everyone knows where they are.
The pace of modern life, our consumeristic culture, social media, together with the expectations of others, can mean we end up living a life far removed from where we intrinsically feel that we should be. Satya reminds us that we only have one life and that we should live it with honesty and integrity, in alignment with our core values and beliefs.
Satya also encourages us to see life just as it is, with its beauty, but also its imperfections, instead of creating an unrealistic or false world.
Living in a fantasy world can become addictive and may end up trapping us. Satya encourages us to become more grounded and unlearn what is untrue and unhelpful in our lives and then having the confidence to act upon it and articulate this to others.
In relation to others, satya also suggests that truthfulness can be beautiful but at times uncomfortable and, as we all know, sometimes the truth can hurt. So although it encourages truthfulness and honesty, when following the yogic path, in relation to speaking honestly to others, we are reminded to not say it rather than hurt them. Socrates reminds us of this too: “Is it true; is it kind; or is it necessary?” So think before you speak.
Satya urges us to look at ourselves with compassion and honesty. We perhaps need to consider what areas of our lives are holding us back and what we may need to let go of in order to live a more free and peaceful life. This goes straight to the heart of yogic philosophy, the goal of which is to strip away the trappings of the materialistic, physical world and find our truth within.