What is Satya and How Can it Help You During Your Holiday Family Visits?

So, what is truth? Everyone has their own truth. Your truth may not be someone else's truth. Part of the yoga practice is to see this. One of the reasons to practice yoga is because it is one of those activities in life where we can cultivate observing what is happening in the present moment rather than being unconsciously caught up in negative judgments or wishing for something else to be true than what is true right now. As a Yoga Therapist it is my job to encourage this practice in my students.

In the Yoga Sutra (Chapter II, verse 30), Patanjali presents the concept of Satya. Sat means what is true or real. Satya is the act of being truthful and honest in thought, word and deed. “Because Satya is presented as a Yama [or practice of restraint] Patanjali’s teaching on the subject has mainly been associated with not doing something rather than with action—with what we should refrain from doing rather than with what specifically we should do. The teaching of Satya is not presented in this manner as an accident or oversight.” - Judith Lasater. The practice of Satya is about restraint: about slowing down, filtering, instead of just blurting things out. It is speaking skillfully and carefully; considering our words so that when we choose them, they are in harmony with the first Yama, Ahimsa. So, it is truth told with a good, non-violent intent. We can choose to practice Satya, truth-telling, at times when we think it will benefit the person hearing it; This means even if someone is being “bad/unhealthy/unpleasant/etc.” We are not here to tell them about their behavior if they aren't ready to hear it.

Yoga is a practice for the rest of our lives; the real work happens not when we unroll our yoga mats, but when we roll them backup. When we are mindful we can see when our judgments or wishes for things to be different than they actually are is effecting a situation negatively. That is the time to acknowledge our behavior and open our minds to observing what is happening and being in harmony with the universe.

Being in greater harmony with your universe is one of the greatest reasons to practice Satya. On a personal note, one interesting concept I have been considering lately is that there is no inherent “bad.” Rather, “bad” is an interpretation that arises within me. This doesn't mean I no longer judge. It just means I am starting to see that even if something is uncomfortable or unpleasant to be with doesn't make it wrong. I still think it is necessary to evaluate life, or I couldn't make important, or even mundane, decisions. I am starting to become more able to recognize that my truth is just one, of many, valid evaluations.

May we all see the truth, speak the truth and act from truth.