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 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.