Yama of Yoga: SATYA
When I was in high school my mother gave me two wonderful little books of philosophy called Notes to Myself and How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy by Hugh Prather. I read them over and over again throughout my life, his simple words always seemed to make sense, to calm and reassure me. I carried the books with me until they were so dog eared and highlighted that they literally fell apart. Even now, so many years later, his words are ingrained in my memory. One of my favorite Hugh Prather quotes is: “Live your life as if everything you do will eventually be known.” Now that is a tall order.
Living a life based in truth is one of the Yamas of Yoga: Satya. Literally translated it means truthfulness. Practicing satya means being truthful in our feelings, thoughts, and words. It means being honest with ourselves and with others.
When we are honest we can be fearless, living life as an open book. Honesty is at the heart of all healthy relationships. Practicing Satya in your words is a good place to start. You might need to deliver the truth to a friend who desperately needs your input. It may not be what she wants to hear at the moment but you can deliver those words in a supportive, honest and loving way. Gossip and hearsay are a large part of this lack of truth in our daily lives. If we were to think for a moment before recounting events in our day, being sure that the words we were sharing were absolutely truthful, we would probably have a lot less to say. Sometimes, the truth hurts, so it is just as important to know when not to speak if it will cause someone else damage. This idea is stated simply and eloquently in the Mahabharata: “Speak the truth which is pleasant. Do not speak unpleasant truths. Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing to the ear. This is the eternal law, the dharma.” Being truthful means that we must choose our words wisely.
Being truthful with ourselves is another aspect of Satya. Becoming clear with who we are and what makes us happy. This means we can let go of trying to achieve perfection and stop being so hard on ourselves. We can let go of the desire to always please. When you do things that are not a reflection of the real you, you cannot be happy with yourself. You will become confused because you won't know who to please or how. Find the courage to say this is who I am and be okay with it. Embrace your truth. Don’t compromise yourself. Many friends and relatives with the best of intentions might offer us advice. Listen to them and then listen to your own heart, it will never steer you wrong.
Once you begin to act in accordance with your fundamental nature; the true you, you will find your intuition growing stronger, decision making becoming easier, and a sense of peace in your daily life. Making a commitment to truth is not always easy, but living without lies is ultimately very freeing.
Live in your truth and live a life of respect, honor and integrity.