Updated: Jan 5, 2020
The practice of truthfulness
I have loved the journey of the 8 limb path. Deepening my practice by learning the ethical and moral principles of the path have truly enriched my life this year.
In Yoga, satya is one of five yamas which is part of the 8 limb path. The yamas are made up of 5 different moral restraints and satya, the second yama, is known as the virtuous restraint from falsehood and falsification of reality in your expressions and actions.
Over the last year I started diving into the 8 limb path more and more. When I went through yoga teacher training one of my teachers suggested practicing each of the limbs. She said you could just pick any of them that resonated with you at that time or go through them in order. However you decide to do it, you quickly learn that once you start on any of the limbs that they all flow and work together through you simultaneously. And once they start intertwining, the magic really happens.
Once I decided to devote myself to Satya, I started to realize how often I am dishonest. And not necessarily outwardly to others- but often I can be inwardly dishonest with myself. And really... I am still practicing daily, and I will probably always be working at it... because it is hard. Like, really hard. And at times I found it can be very uncomfortable. But, I have already started to understand what comes with practicing truthfulness and how beneficial it has been to start getting really honest in my life.
Practicing truthfulness happens in so many different ways.
Truthfulness in expressions:
Speaking the truth. This may sound elementary, but how often do we blatantly lie? Here is an example I think we can all relate to. How many times have you said, "Yes. I will be there." While the intention is good, you know you won't be there. So then the lie transforms into another lie down the road into, "Sorry, I actually can't make it because..." We have all done it! But for me, when it came down to it- this caused a lot of REAL pain for me this year.
Having good intentions on commitments is really nice, following through with those commitments is another thing. Not all the time, but more times than I care to admit, this year I found myself not only lying to people who were really important to me, but I was lying to myself. Overcommitting, over promising and causing myself a LOT of unnecessary stress and anxiety when I knew in my heart of all hearts I should just say no to some things. I am a people pleaser. Plain and simple, we all want to make each other happy. We all want to do it all, and be at all the things for everyone, all the time. But a truth I learned this year was, you can't make everyone happy, and you can't be everywhere and be everything for everyone- but more importantly, I learned that none of those things are my job. My job is to be honest.
So, I felt the pain of letting people down this year. I also felt the pain of wanting to do certain things and having to say no. I felt sadness and disappointment from people who mattered to me. And I cried this year and worked through some hard conversations with my loved ones.
But then I learned the value of being honest with myself and how I was actually spending my time. I have started to learn that my time is important, and that I get to choose how I spend it. I learned that the people who I am honest with understand why I have to say no to things.
Sometimes, we know the other person will be hurt if we say no, so habitually we say yes. But how much pain and anguish would we save ourselves and others by just being honest in a moment? It's okay to say no when you are overcommitted for the day. It's also okay to just say no because you don't want to do something. And if you are really just being honest and the other person's feelings get hurt... It will be okay. There is an understanding that happens somewhere in between hurt feelings and truthfulness. But that understanding can't begin to exist without honesty.
Truthfulness in your actions:
I love when I can feel the magic of everything intertwining. Like the intertwining of satya with my intention of living a healthy lifestyle. Trying to make healthy decisions for my body brought me face to face with exactly how dishonest I was about my actual intentions.
I DO care about my physical health and I also care about exercise very much...but, I also love potato chips, pizza, beer and wine.... like, a lot.
So, while practicing satya, I started thinking about that intention and thought about what I have been doing to my body through years of consumption. 3 years ago Ahimsa and Sayta started intertwining themselves in my life. Ahimsa is the practice of non-violence, and the first yama. (Maybe I will revisit Ahimsa and my journey with that in another post, but you can read more about Ahimsa in this awesome article by Rina Deshpande.) Ahimsa and Satya were working side by side for me when I started questioning how I could love the beauty of nature and it's creatures so much, yet I chose to eat animals? The intertwining of the first two yamas happened before I even knew what yamas were! It was kind of cool to see that I was already becoming conscious of these things before I started the actual practice and learning about the 8 limb path.
How often are our intentions and our actions really aligned with one another?
One big realization I have had with truthfulness in my actions has been my relationship with alcohol. This has been a HUGE life changing event that has happened FOR ME during this devotion to satya. You can read more about that here when the post is complete.
Practicing satya can happen in the smallest moments of honesty with yourself, but those moments of truthfulness can cause giant ripple effects in your life. These are just some of my recent experiences with satya. I would love to hear yours!