Satya, meaning truthfulness, is the second of Patanjali’s Yamas. Truthfulness in thought, action, and words.
As time goes on in modern society, this principle can feel increasingly relevant to our lives in a time that seems to be rife with widespread misinformation that lacks real authenticity.
Satya is an empowering principle that guides us to lead the way in speaking our truth and following the path of honesty and integrity.
Let’s take a look at:
- What Satya Is
- Perspectives On Truth
- Practicing Satya Yoga
- Applying Satya To Your Life
What is satya?
Satya is about living your life based on what is true for you.
In its highest form, Satya is to be connected with your absolute nature – truth. This truth is unchanging and always within us, yet our temporary judgment can be clouded by emotions, opinions, or experiences.
Therefore, it’s about being able to see through all of these things and experience our own truth. To be at one with what already is.
Satya. Truthfulness. It resides inside of you, always. There may be barriers and obstacles in the way for you to hear your truth… yoga opens the door to listen within so the truth of you can come forth’Mysan Sidbo
Yoga and meditation are tools that help us to, with time, see what is truthful to us and what is not. This is because truth is our very nature, and these practices reveal the absolute truth that exists inside of us.
There are many situations where we can not possibly know what the whole truth is. However, what we do know is what feels honest to us and, on the other hand, what feels false, disingenuous, or deceitful.
Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.Swami Vivekananda
‘So, I can just say whatever I’m thinking?’
Remember this is the second Yama after Ahimsa (nonviolence). They are both intimately connected.
Although I’m sure that we all think things that are true to us, but would probably appear quite harsh to others, it’s important to note that it should be applied in a way that does also not harm or upset others, following the first Yama.
Unless you can deliver the message in a supportive way from a place of love, it’s probably best not to say it!
The Mahabarata says this best: “speak the truth which is pleasant. Do not speak unpleasant truths. Do not lie, even if the lies are pleasing to the ear“
Anyone can be blunt and honest, but a true yogi will speak with intention, integrity, and purpose.
Perspectives On Truth: Ego vs. Humanity
It can be very easy, once you take on the concept of this yama, to want to tell the truth because you now view yourself as an honest person:
‘I will tell the truth because I am an honest person’ whilst simultaneously affirming the belief that ‘telling the truth is good’.
Can you see how, in this situation, we start telling the truth because it becomes a matter of the ego?
We start to believe that being honest is a fundamental part of our personality and identity. Perhaps because it makes us feel good, proud, or slightly superior to others.
We want to follow this yama, not as an expression of our ego or belief system, but because we are in touch with the true nature of our own reality.
When we are connected to this, through meditation, asana, pranayama, and other practices, we become aware of the essence of Satya that is already within us. Our human nature is unconditional love, truth, and bliss – Satchidananda.
Satya becomes about wholeness, with ourselves and others. It is not about truthfulness for the sake of reputation, standing for a belief system, pride, or feeling good about being moral.
The way we practice Satya should attest to the love, empathy, and kindness that we are embodying for the sake of the whole.
Our truth becomes a pure expression of the oneness and interconnectedness of humanity.
Building Your Satya Yoga Practice
1. ‘Sat Nam’
If you’re a kundalini student, I’m sure you’ll already have this one in your toolbox. Sat Nam is a bija (seed) mantra – small but mighty!
It essentially translates to ‘truth is my essence‘, ‘truth is my identity‘, or ‘I am truth’. Repeating this mantra can help you to tune into the true nature and wisdom of your being.
- Inhale: mentally repeat ‘sat’
- Exhale: mentally repeat ‘nam’
- Repeat from 3-11 minutes
As an alternative, you could meditate on the mantra ‘I am truth’.
2. ‘What does my body need?’
This is similar to what we discussed in the Ahimsa article. You might be constantly doing power yoga or a more physically challenging asana practice (believe me, as a former Ashtanga student, I’ve been there!) when you feel like your body needs to rest.
Not only are you overlooking the body’s signals, but this means that you’re also not being honest with yourself about what you actually need.
Practicing the Yamas on the mat is the first part of cultivating these skills to utilize in our everyday lives, essentially supporting us in (hopefully) becoming more peaceful, kind, and loving humans.
We know that we can’t control others’ truthfulness or commitment to Satya, only our own, and this begins with governing our actions and level of authenticity towards our own needs.
3. Focus on yourself
It can be easy to be drawn into a state of comparison and competition when you’re in a yoga class.
‘They look better than me’
‘My alignment is so much better than theirs’
‘Yikes, why is their back so rounded?’
‘I wish I could move my foot closer toward my head!’
Satya gives us confidence resting in the knowledge of our intrinsic wholeness.
Applying Satya To Your Life
1. ‘What makes me truly happy?’
Get real with yourself and what makes you happy. Are you living your life to please others or because you feel like it’s a path you ‘should’ follow? Is this really what you want to do?
If your goals and desires are a reflection of society instead of your own true nature, you will never find true happiness.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- Who am I?
- Am I making a difference in the world?
- Am I in the present moment?
- Am I standing in my power or trying to please another person?
- Am I prioritizing the right things & the things that make me happiest?
- Do these things really make me happy?
- What big changes am I avoiding?
- Am I lying to myself in any areas of my life or have I settled for less than I know I am worthy of?
- Is this an act of self-love or self-sabotage?
2. T.H.I.N.K before you speak
You might have heard this acronym before and I think it’s particularly relevant to Satya, helping us to encompass a lot of what this Yama is about.
T – Is what I’m saying True?
H – Is it Helpful?
I – Is it Inspiring?
N – Is it Necessary?
K – Is it Kind?
If what you’re saying isn’t all of these things, it probably isn’t in accordance with Satya or Ahimsa.
And yes, this would mean avoiding gossip too! This might be a hard one – especially if you’re in a job or friendship group where it feels unavoidable, but make a commitment to stop gossiping and observe how your connection to truth and joy grows.
Authenticity has become a bit of a buzzword in the last few years, but it’s a really important part of Satya. (Patanjali might have been the original authenticity preacher?!)
In a yogic context, it’s about living a life that’s in line with your own values, purpose, or dharma. Of course, this is easier when we are connected to our true nature.
Authenticity can be scary and intimidating, but remember that this fear comes from our ego. Maybe from a fear of being rejected, embarrassed, or hurt. But there’s no place for the ego in the eight limbs!
Satya is about knowing yourself and knowing that your value lies far beyond what others perceive of you. When you are connected to this inner truth and light, you tap into the universal power that surrounds you.
I think Brene Brown speaks brilliantly to this:
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.
Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.Brene Brown
When we are vulnerable and authentic, we give others the power and permission to do the same too.
5. Do what you say, say what you mean
Follow through on your word – whether this is a promise you’ve made to yourself or a commitment you’ve made to another person. This might mean getting up an hour earlier, creating a bedtime routine, or simply finding 5 minutes a day to focus on your breath.
Keeping your word is important, and it also means that you won’t be swayed as much by temporary opinions, judgments, or circumstances.
There is true freedom in this – being exactly who you are and not molding yourself to fit into someone else’s expectations, needs, and desires.
Asato ma sad gamaya ~ “lead us from ignorance to knowledge.”
If you want to read more about the first yama, you can follow this link to our ahimsa article!