Satya or truth is the second of the five Yamas, the yogi social code of conduct.
As we saw with Ahimsa (click here to read about ‘Is kindness key to a better society?’), there are so many ways to interpret this Yama.
But I always like to start with what I know best and that is myself.
Can you be ‘untruthful’ with yourself?
We tell ourselves stories all the time and convince ourselves that they are true.
A big one for me is, “I don’t have time to do all the things I want to do”
The problem is we get so stuck in our thought patterns (‘Samskaras’ in yoga) that we believe certain things to be true about ourselves.
Let’s have a look at ways in which not being honest with ourselves might be affecting our happiness.
Is this the truth?
In yoga, we learn that there are five functions of the mind. We’ll translate them as:
For the first step along the journey of Satya (truthfulness), try to notice which of these categories your thoughts fall into.
Need some examples? I thought you’d never ask!
When we have thoughts such as,
“I’m not as confident as they are.”
that is ‘perception’ – the way YOU see it.
“I’m useless at sticking to a routine! That’s why I always quit!”
Well, that’s ‘verbalisation’ which is the story you’ve told yourself so often that you believe it to be true.
See how these functions of the mind might not be helpful?
And then, good old ‘memory’ joins the party and lets past experiences affect present – and future – situations.
“I tried (yoga / Zumba / the gym) once and everyone was better than me, so I didn’t go back!”
If you notice perception, verbalisation or memory influencing your actions, ask yourself,
“What’s the truth about this situation?”
The truth hurts!
It’s no coincidence that the first of Patanjali’s Yamas is Ahimsa (non-harming).
We’ve seen above how being true to ourselves and recognising the types of thoughts we have can help us to be more honest versions of ourselves with others.
So, does that mean that we should go around spouting every true thought that comes into our heads???
Can you imagine it?
Your partner cooks dinner and asks how it is.
You think it is too salty, too oily and could do with more vegetables!
Do you tell them that???
Only if you are looking for a divorce!
When we speak the truth, we need to practise Ahimsa first.
For instance, we can do this by asking ourselves,
“Is what I’m about to say going to cause harm? And is it absolutely necessary?”
More often than not, we don’t actually need to share harmful truths like,
“I think that dress is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in my life!”
Similarly, you can keep that one to yourself. It’s only your perception, after all.
But, sometimes, it is necessary to say things that may cause harm.
Above all, we must tell these truths in the most compassionate way in order to minimise the harm they trigger.
In the case of the oily, salty and vegetable-free meal, it’s not necessary to criticise when someone has made an effort to feed you!
Think about what kind of reply might not cause harm and will ensure you keep getting fed!
What’s it all about anyway?
So, you’ve got to the stage where you recognise an untrue thought as being your perception or a story that you have been telling yourself. Hooray!
Well, simply ask WHY?
And whatever comes up, again, just ask WHY?
Keep asking why until you can’t go any further!
Here’s an example from my own experience that maybe you can relate to.
Imagine you see someone, and you think,
“OMG! She’s way too confident!”
That’s your perception.
WHY do you perceive that?
After some digging, you discover it’s because you wish you were as confident as she seems to be.
WHY do you think you’re not confident?
Because you lack a bit of self-belief.
WHY do you lack self-belief?
Can you see where I’m going with this?
Just keep going and going until eventually you get to your authentic truth which is…
You are a big ball of PERFECT energy packed into a human form.
Know the truth, be the truth!
Well, there we have it – Satya in a nutshell!
Remember, delving into our thoughts and the reasons behind them isn’t easy.
In fact, it can be pretty damn uncomfortable at times!
But, believe me, the benefits it brings to you and your relationships are worth the hard work.
You got this, yogis!
I would love for you to tell me your truths in the comments below!
PS Get in touch if you have a great idea for a blog post!