Satya or truthfulness is the second Yama. Have you ever really noticed how hard it is to be honest? When I describe myself liar doesn’t come to mind but if I reflect I can certainly say honesty is challenging for me. Now let me qualify that for a moment, I’m not bullsh!@er by any stretch of the imagination and in fact telling the truth has cost me dearly on more than one occasion. I believe truth telling necessary but only if the first yama is observed, non-violence…so no truth telling if its hurtful, but I’ve been nailed hard by this too. Trying to be kind, not saying what I really mean and then retreating into silence in hopes of not getting forced into honesty because I know its going to be hurtful and not necessary. How do we define necessary though? Perhaps that’s been my problem.
I am also dishonest when I want to avoid my feelings either with myself or someone else. Avoid my feelings, that can’t be good. I can talk myself in and out of things, I can use my clever mind against my spirit only to get bit in the butt because in the end the soul wins. As an aside, its good to remember that the universe is always conspiring in your favor so the soul will always win, in this lifetime or the next or however long it takes you to surrender the mind. Currently, one of my personal practices has been to speak the truth when its uncomfortable for me but not bad for the other person. Example: I have plans with someone but someone else I know is moving away and I want to see her. Ideally I reschedule person A to see person B before they move but I have already rescheduled person A a previous time. To live up to speaking my truth I tell person A my situation (rather than making up a small white lie like I have to work or something) and give her an opportunity to have her own experience. I have to be willing to disappoint another to stay true to myself and be in integrity, to be living up to my own beliefs.
That was a theme for me last year. I would say 2 good friendships got ruined by my truth telling. I’m still living the pain of that fallout, the pain of change. All I can do is try my best to accept it gracefully and move forward. Yoga really helps me open to grace, that whole stop swimming up the river and go with the flow. Change is an ultimate truth, you can count on it happening and you can either trust it or not.
We can take this concept of truthfulness onto the mat. We can move the body so that every moment we ask is this serving me? Am I being harmful or am I further opening to grace? When we do yoga from the body’s truth we avoid injury and have this incredible opportunity to revisit old injuries (physical and emotional), or even to just have an in the body experience. When I started practicing yoga this was my theme. I was so busy in my mind that I hardly ever felt my feet. Sounds crazy but think about it, are you conscious of your feet? Do you feel how you connect to the earth as you wander about? I used to be incredibly anxious and in retrospect I can see that this could stem from my unrootedness from the world around me.
So how do we get honest? First we need to identify our truth. Start to observe your thoughts, understand that your true self is the watcher and your mind is what to be observed. How does your body feel about certain situations? Trust the body to guide you to the truth. If something doesn’t feel right, its usually not. Listening to yourself will let you know what is true. Practice honesty on the mat with a commitment to integrating the body, watch where you can be dishonest off the mat and see if you can make small changes. Living your truth is yet another way to be in integrity, congruent with yourself and the world around you.