Journal: Satya

Satya JournalThis week's journal questions are based upon the second yama or yogic principle of satya/truth.

Find a few minutes to contemplate these questions and journal freely about them. Don't edit yourself - let the words flow (honestly!) on to your page or keyboard.

What inspires you to be honest?

What is the most common reason for you to be dishonest, what are your motivations when you choose to embellish, change or hide the truth?
Is it ever ok to lie?

What untruths do you repeat to yourself on a daily or weekly basis?

Satya: The Truth About Time

Satya TimeAre you honest with yourself about your time?
Time is an area of our lives where we are often not truthful to ourselves and to other people. This isn't necessarily intentional but none the less these untruths have repercussions and can cause harm (himsa) to ourselves and to others as well as raising stress levels and anxiety.

We know how many hours there are in a day and how much energy we have to do what we need to, but how often do we tell ourselves that we can get the gazillion tasks on our to do list done, take kids or family members to appointments, visit a friend, cook dinner, bath the dog, clean the house, paint the spare room twice and be in bed by 9pm? This may be a bit extreme but I don’t think I'm the only one that can be a little over-ambitious when it comes to my time!
When we are not true to ourselves about how long things are really going to take, we let ourselves and other people down. We repeat the mantra 'I don't have time to...' to ourselves and feel anxious and overwhelmed.

 

This week, the satya practice off the mat is to become aware of how you spend your time.

Notice when you lie to yourself or others about how long a task may take. Be aware of how you feel when you don't complete it on time or when, as a result, you turn up late to another appointment.
Notice if you simply over estimate how much you can do, or habitually underestimate how long things take to complete (I'm guilty of this one!).
Notice if you tell yourself that you don't spend much time on your phone playing games and scrolling, or watching TV, but really lose 5 minutes here and 20 minutes there several times a day. Could these pockets be better spent cuddling the dog, reading something uplifting, or clearing your head in some fresh air?

Time is our most valuable resource. Practicing satya and being truthful about the hours you have in a day and how you choose to spend them can make you feel in control and less stressed.
Combine this with the practice of being impeccable with your word; complete tasks when you say you will, be on time to meetings and appointments, and be honest with people around you, and you be sure to feel more confident and accomplished at the end of each day.

Satya: Be Impeccable With Your Word

4 Agreements

The first agreement in the book 'The Four Agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz is 'be impeccable with your word'.
He states that this is the most important agreement, but also the most difficult one to honor. Being impeccable with your word is tied closely to the second yama, satya (truth).

I think most of us believe we are truthful people, but when we dig a little deeper into our daily interactions we may notice that perhaps there are more untruths present than we'd expect.

Firstly look on the inside; are you impeccable with your word or do you tell yourself untruths like 'I'm not good enough to do …' or look at another person and tell yourself that they're prettier, luckier or more capable in some way than you are?
Do you tell yourself little untruths like you're not really addicted to sugar, that this one icecream isn't doing any harm, even though you say that every single day.
Do you tell yourself you'll start dieting, meditating, exercising or reading tomorrow but never get around to it? Do you do the things you tell yourself you're going to do?

As with so many of our yogic practices, we must begin on the inside before being able to practice in our interactions with others.

When we become aware of how many untruths we tell to ourselves it perhaps isn't surprising that there are untruths told to others. A little embellishment on a story here, an excuse for being late there….

In yoga we begin with awareness. Noticing when we do certain things and being an observer of our habits and patterns without any judgment on our actions or efforts. From that place of awareness we can set a new path.
This week, steer a course for satya. Be impeccable with your word. Remember to practice satya with ahimsa (non harming) and do not use the truth to hurt others. There is a delicate balance to this practice; it is not perhaps about perfection, but about reducing the unnecessary untruths that cause us stress and self-doubt.

An Introduction To Satya

During April, we focused our attention on the first of the yamas (yogic principles) ahimsa or non-violence. As we move into May we'll be focusing on the second yama; satya.

Satya

Satya is translated as 'truth'. It should be practiced alongside the the first yama of non violence, so that we do not use the truth in ways that cause other people harm.

There are many ways that truth can be explored both in our yoga practice and in daily life, the most obvious being not to lie to people. However, if you dig into the idea of practicing satya it becomes apparent that there is a lot more to this subject than meets the eye.
Do you consider yourself to be a truthful person? Have you ever told someone you liked their new hair cut even though you didn't? Do you keep your word and arrive for meetings/appointments/meals on time? Have you ever fibbed to a child to get them to behave? Have you ever embellished or exaggerated a story to make it more exciting or to make yourself seem more heroic, clever or interesting? Have you ever denied doing something so you wouldn't get into trouble? Do you edit and filter photos of yourself before putting them online? Is your social networking profile a truthful reflection of the who you are?

Discussions around satya often spiral into the questions of whether then we should be truthful and tell our boss that they drive us crazy, or what to do if your wife/girlfriend/friend/husband puts on something unflattering and asks for your opinion. Do we need to open up the books of our lives for all to see? These discussions happen often and are the shield our ego puts up to try and prove that the truth isn't good. This is the ego's last defense because it doesn't want to admit how often we are untruthful, and how often we turn to lies whether big or small for an easy way out, to boost self-image or to be accepted/fit-in.

In 'Light on Life' B.K.S Iyengar answers these arguments by reminding us that we must be skillful and wise in our practice. 'We should not use the truth as a club with which to beat other people…. Truth has got to be tempered with social grace. We are all guilty of complimenting someone on a new dress or sari because they are so obviously proud of it. Maybe if we had reached absolute truth we would not do that, but in a relative world, of which we are imperfect observers, we occasionally make concessions.'

When I read this section of Iyengar's book, I found it refreshing to hear him concede that in the modern day practice of yoga, being nothing but truthful could potentially do more himsa/harm than good in some situations and therefore a more skillful response could be appropriate. 'Truth is not a weapon to be abused, and the sword of truth has two edges so be careful'. He acknowledges that at each stage of our lives we may not be perfect, but we should always do our best in the practice of each of the yamas.

During the next 4 weeks we'll be exploring the practice of truth. We'll be referring to the book 'the four agreements' during this time as I believe the 4 agreements tie closely to the practice of satya. Check back daily for blog posts, inspiration and journal prompts.