Satya is a Sanskrit word meaning truthfulness, referring to truth in thoughts, words, and deeds. As is typical in a journey with yoga, we need to start by being truthful with ourselves; which means we need to get to know ourselves completely. Practicing satya begins with observing our own thoughts and psychological patterns. When we are able to see the beliefs and patterns that we hold, we can start to think about how they influence the choices we make. As we observe our thoughts more and more, we are able to differentiate between what we are projecting and what is truth. What we’re projecting might be in line with what our friends, coworkers, society and families want us to be, but is it who we really are? Is what we’re projecting true? Once we can figure this out we can choose to come from our core integrity and abandon actions that come from projection; essentially we start to act more authentically.
If you think about a teenager who acts out to fit in with a crowd that he or she thinks is cool, this becomes more clear. We can see how he or she might have a core value of honesty, a desire to do well in school or to please his or her parents, etc, but their actions tell a different story. They are projecting what they believe their peers want. It’s not quite as obvious in someone with more maturity, but may still exist. Maybe you’re a person who values hard work, but you’re in a workplace that doesn’t support that. What changes can you make so that your actions are in line with your values, your truth?
Because most communication in relationships is sustained through speaking and writing, it’s important to be honest in these forms of communication as well. Remember ahimsa (nonharming) here though. It’s about speaking only what we know to be true, not embellishing or exaggerating or leaving out an inconvenient detail. Pujari suggests that before we speak we ask two questions: 1) is it true; and 2) is it useful? Judith Hanson Lancaster suggests a third question – is it nonharming?
When practicing asana, we must be mindful and respectful of our body’s capabilities. Know that today’s class might be very different from yesterdays and be okay with that. Practice as if it’s the first time. Sometimes we are not truthful in our asana practice because we’re being a little lazy- we can do more but are choosing not to. Other times we aren’t being honest about what we are capable of and end up hurting ourselves, causing harm.
When we get to know our truth, our integrity, we think and act in ways that support them and we become more peaceful with ourselves and those around us.