In yoga, there are the “ten living principles.” These principles are a guide to living your life in a yogic way.
Satya is commitment to the truth. This principle can be used in our lives in a variety of different ways, but let’s start with its relevance to yoga. In yoga, it is very important to be mindful about your body and listen to its needs and thresholds. Part of that, is being honest with yourself. It doesn’t matter how mindful I am when I do yoga, if I’m not honest about what I am interpreting. For example, there is a difference between the feeling of my body naturally stretching and adjusting to exercise and the feeling of my body being in danger because I am not capable of or ready to do something. The consequences of being dishonest about this is a potential injury. Similarly, commitment to the truth also means communication. There have been times at the beginning of my yogic practice when part of my body isn’t feeling too well, but I don’t mention it in class. Or sometimes, I don’t know how to do a pose, but I’m too embarrassed to ask. How is my teacher supposed to make sure I am safe and growing in my practice? These things can sound small, but they can prevent one from truly enjoying and bettering their practice.
Similarly, this principle can be applied to one’s life. We often hear that it is wrong to lie, but this isn’t the whole story about the truth. Fully embracing the truth doesn’t mean just avoiding lies, but it also means being open and honest about how you feel, what you think, and who you are.
There are times when it is easier to say nothing, and at those times, it may seem like it was the right thing to do, but just because something is not said, doesn’t mean it goes away. Being able to communicate gives our ideas and thoughts a chance to be discussed, evaluated, applied, and/or corrected.
For me, the hardest thing for me to be honest about is my jealousy. Society has told me that being jealous is not only a shameful, unattractive thing, but that it should be suppressed so that is not seen. However, I have noticed that discussing my jealousy with the people it involves helps in several ways. It helps me understand the root of my emotion, it helps me and the other person come up with a solution, and lastly it prevents a bigger issue from developing. This can be applied in almost every issue that comes up in the most tentative or deep relationship that one has with others.
The other side of that coin, is the ability to listen to feedback for what it is, instead of becoming defensive. When someone is open with you, it is important to be willing to receive what they say even if it is hard to hear. It is difficult to receive what sounds like negative feedback about oneself, but in the end, it can save you a lot of time and trouble by allowing you to have a clearer picture of how you effect others.
The truth also means being true to yourself. Has there ever been something about yourself that was different, that you hid because it wasn’t what was ‘normal’? I think everyone does. There are bits about ourselves that we hide because we think it will make us less desirable or strange, but being true to who you are, and expressing that, allows you find a better community and a better sense of self. It also inspires others to be who they are! What is the point of living a life that is not yours?
Lastly, being committed to the truth, means being mindful about the truth. It’s easy to say this and that about a person or a situation without being aware of what is truly happening. It’s important that when we say something, it’s because we know it to be true. It’s easy to say things in the moment, but being able to track down what you said after discovering the truth can be difficult. There is a constant spread of misinformation around us, and a lot of it comes from quick judgements and even quicker mouths. I’ve been guilty of this, and it just never turns out well. It gains nothing, and can only hurt others.
Pursuing the truth is something that can benefit the individual, but just as importantly, it can benefit society as a whole as we move to further understand ourselves on a global level. This pursuit can start as simply as getting on your mat and being open about your practice.