The traditional translation of satya is “truthfulness” or “honesty”. This means refraining from lying in all its forms… and yes that includes white lies. This occurs when our thoughts, words and deeds are in alignment. I believe this to be the actual meaning of “alignment” in yoga, and it creates integrity within our being and requires a high degree of responsibility and follow-through. I like the expression “being true to our word” as a reminder.
Here’s the sutra:
YS 2.36 When established in truthfulness, one can be sure of the results of action.
It is said that once the practice of satya is mastered, whatever words we speak are manifested into reality.
If we look more deeply at the word satya we find the root “sat”, which translates to “real”, as in “reality”. This comes from a state of being where one is able to distinguish our observations from our interpretations. Here we need to check into the “stories we tell ourselves” and ask if they are true, or if we made something up to bring meaning or understanding to the situation?
Patanjali very skilfully put each of the yamas in a precise order: Ahimsa, then satya. So we are asked to be truthful and real, and at the same time, maintain a non-harming approach. How many times have you chosen truth over kindness, or kindness over truth? The practice of Yoga invites us beyond this duality into the realm of figuring out how to communicate our truth with kindness. We might need to stretch, and yet yoga is so good at helping us with that. In her book on the Yamas & Niyamas, Deborah Adele writes “the compassion of nonviolence keeps truthfulness from being a personal weapon”.
It is important to remember that yoga is a practice – not a perfect. And you have no idea how many times I’ve thanked the universe for this phrase. And yet even when it becomes challenging, we need to keep trying. This is how we grow and evolve. Consider what satya means to you, and leave me a comment so we can continue this conversation!
Om shanti & prema,