The Second Yama: Satya
There are eight limbs on the path of Ashtanga Yoga. There are five Yamas. The Yamas focus on the relationship we have with the world outside. The Yamas are moral codes or guidelines to restrain behaviors that are motivated by grasping, aversion, hatred, and delusion.
‘Satya’ is the second Yama.
Satya, at its most obvious level, means being honest with other people.
The most subtle level of Satya focuses on introspection. It means our inner awareness or inner mind is in alignment with the outer world. When we uphold and honor our inner truth and what we know to be true within, we reflect that truthfulness outward.
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”Mark Twain
Examples of ‘Satya’ in Everyday Living
To better illustrate the Yama Satya, and we all do this, think about how we use or set deadlines for tasks we would like to accomplish. Sometimes we set unattainable deadlines either because we either don’t WANT to do the task or maybe because we are trying to ‘push’ ourselves past our comfort level to try to possibly make ourselves do something we don’t feel comfortable with.
Another example is, have you ever made plans with friends to go out, and when the time comes to go out – you just don’t feel like it? Maybe you’re just too tired or simply just don’t feel up to it but instead of telling your friend the truth – you say you ‘don’t feel well’ or something else that might ‘sound better’?
Truth demands integrity not only for ourselves but also for the outside world.
Why Do We Lie?
Practicing Satya doesn’t mean it’s OK to just blurt out any and every truth to the world. Ahimsa, or not causing harm / pushing against, should always be considered. Ask yourself these 3 questions before speaking your truth to another:
1. Is it true? 2. Is it necessary? 3. Is it kind?
Exercise to Practice Satya
The practice of Satya may initially feel uncomfortable, difficult, and even painful but on the other side, living your truth can be extremely liberating.
- Become aware of your triggers. Start by noticing when, where, and under what circumstances you aren’t telling the truth. Remember, ‘little white lies’ are still dishonesties and just as important. Take a mental note of these times or maybe even write them down in a journal.
- Examine your triggers. Once you have become aware of what triggers you to lie, consider the ‘why’ aspect.
- Take a pause. Practice taking a couple of deep breaths before you make any verbal obligations – to someone else and mostly to yourself. Notice how you feel. If you need to take some time before you answer, this is also being truthful. Speak your truth and know that taking a pause is absolutely reasonable and healthy!
- Next, consider what it might feel like to be 100% truthful with yourself. If it is in your practice to meditate, this is a great option. When you take the time to make space in your mind by clearing out the incessant chatter of your ego, you can begin to access the wisdom of your true self.
- Respond with honesty. This doesn’t have to be a full-on dialogue with your friend/loved one about why you have come to the decision to do something or not do something. Truth needs no justification. If you feel like you would like to share more information, this is totally up to you.
- Finally, don’t give up. Satya is not an easy practice. Once you start becoming more aware of your inner truth to yourself and others – you will become more in tune with your true self.
- Extra! Take some time to write out and name situations or activities where you feel most energized and integrated in your truth.
This practice is not meant to be a penance but rather an act of awareness. Be easy on yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you feel you made a mistake. ‘Satya’ is also a practice of being true to yourself and the outside world. Be patient and know that just the act of trying and becoming aware is tremendous.