Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Satya - Truthfulness

Satya, or truthfulness, is another one of the "ten commandments of yoga" (the yamas and the niyamas).

Satya is defined as living in harmony and integrity with all things. Practicing truthfulness of speech, thoughts and deeds. Being honest, owning your feelings, giving constructive feedback -- in a loving, non-judgmental way, letting go of masks. Being careful of self-delusion, denial, and avoidance of telling the whole truth.

I am a terrible liar. I just can't do it convincingly. This is a blessing in that it helps me live up to the ideal of Satya, to be truthful all the time -- because lying is just too much work. So that covers truthfulness of speech.

But what about truthfulness of thoughts? Promising myself, "Tomorrow I will eat better" as I crunch through a bowl of popcorn at 10 PM in a futile attempt to combat stress... Sadly I'm not often very sincere in that vow. Or truthfulness of deeds? ("Oh, has that coupon expired? I didn't realize it.")

Self-delusion? I'm there! Denial? Highly skilled! Not telling the whole truth . . . well, if it will help me to avoid a late-night argument with my husband, then I'm all for it -- except somehow I always seem to end up paying for it later. Is anyone else guilty of these things? It's human nature. But that doesn't mean we can't work on it and try to improve our "truthfulness" skills.

What about Satya as it applies to our yoga practice?

Some of this goes back to what I wrote about Ahimsa. Be careful of self-delusion and denial -- especially where it pertains to what may or may not be good for your body. Are you skipping down down because your shoulder hurts. . . or because you'd just rather rest in child pose? Are you doing the full expression of the posture even though you're really tired, when you suspect you should be taking it easy today? Satya (truthfulness) and Ahimsa (non-harming) go hand in hand. Be HONEST with yourself about whether or not you are HARMING yourself. It may sound easy,but sometimes -- often -- it isn't.

This week I am going to try to pay attention to truthfulness -- to see if I can "bust" myself on some lies I tell myself again and again. We'll see how it goes.

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