The second Yama in our Yamas and Niyamas series is Satya, which means truthfulness. Truthfulness involves being honest not only with others but also with ourselves - making sure our thoughts, words and actions are always aligned, and that we are always true to our word.
Satya is not just 'not lying', it is also the absence of vanity, exaggeration, conceit, pretension and breaking promises. And gossiping! Not so easy now is it Brogis :)
Erm, or is that just me?!
As with Ahimsa, before we can be truthful with anyone else we must first be truthful with ourselves. This can be harder than it seems as our mind and/ or ego are so excellent at tricking us it can be hard to tell what the truth is, even when it is *our* truth. For example, sometimes we can be in a situation that causes us discomfort or distress but we tell other and ourselves it is "okay" and that we are fine with it, even though if we were really looked inside ourselves we would find that we actually feel the opposite.
Much of this is borne of fear - fear we will lose someone if we really tell them how we feel, fear we will have to make changes we are scared of if we admit we are not happy. We must look beyond these feelings and see the real truths that lie at our very core.
Not exactly the most comfortable or easy thing to do I do admit brogis!
In order to practice Satya we must ask ourselves the hard questions. 'Is this really my true desire or am I acting out of habit, expectation, fear or ego?' Practicing yoga is an excellent chance to use our Satya skills - am I going into this pose because it is the best thing for me to do for me in this moment... or am I doing it because the person next to me is, or because I did it last week (when perhaps you had more energy, or were more flexible) or because I want to impress the teacher (I hope not brogis!) Or perhaps you could push yourself a little further but you give in to the temptation to slack off a little and be a bit lazy. Which again, fine if that's what you need... but be honest!
I find when I'm honest to myself about being lazy I often realise I want to get more out of the class than just being there and work a little harder, ending up feeling much happier and healthier from all my hard work afterwards. Other times I am tired or run down and a "lazy" class is just what I need. Honesty is the key we need to figure that out :)
The other good thing about being honest about your habits and actions is that you are now able to bring yourself back into alignment with your true desires and vision for yourself. Perhaps you think of yourself as a kind person, but then one day feel impatient with someone, leading you to snap at them or say something cruel. Although it may be easier to bury your head in the sand and insist that you are kind and it was the other person's fault for irritating you, it is by being honest and owning up to your less than ideal behaviour that you will actually be able to change and fix the mistakes you may make along the way. Looking truthfully at your own behaviour will allow you to fix any gaps between your intentions and the things you do and say.
Relationships (any kind not just romantic - so you don't get out of this if you are single brogis!) are the best place to practice Satya. Not just the obvious things like not lying, but during instances like the one above, where we can examine and be truthful about our own behaviour, responses and feelings, allowing us to be more open and honest with others. Honest communication, thought and action form the basis for every healthy relationship. Not to mention every society! But that's a rant for another day :)
Two more excellent questions (especially in today's facebook-y driven world) found in this post by Michelle Myhre are 'What areas of your life do you exaggerate or minimize to others?' (eeck!) and 'Are you genuine and authentic to your inner nature?' It's tempting to show an ideal or exaggerated side of ourselves to others, but is it really that fun trying to live up to it? I know from experience that it can be hard to be true to your inner nature - I was always very shy and wanted to be like the more boisterous and outgoing people around me. But if I'm honest I know that's not really me :)
One final point - telling the truth for it's own sake without care for the hurt it may cause others is not Satya. We must practice with the first yama Ahimsa (non-harming) in mind. As anyone who has watched any reality tv will know, (and because this is a post on honesty I cannot pretend that is not me!) people who have a determination to "tell it like it is" without regard to the hurt that may cause others are not acting with kindness in mind. Brutal honesty is not truthfulness. So always ask yourself if a truth that could cause pain or hurt is really necessary... and if it's not... practice Ahmisa and keep your trap shut gang! :)
Thanks for reading all about Satya brogis! Although the yamas and niyamas can seem like "commandments" they are by no means something you will be judged for obeying or not obeying. They are based on practices which have been observed to lead to a happier, more graceful and fulfilled life... and it is your choice to perhaps try them out and see for yourself how they might work for you. Maybe aim to keep Satya in the back of your mind as you go about your week, and just observe any changes that may come about with the aim to practice truthfulness in mind. And make sure you report back if there are any you do!