One of the things we are aiming for in our yoga practice is to unfog the mirror, to clear our perception so that we start to see things as they are, rather than as we want them to be, or hope them to be. This is satya – which is translated from Sanskrit as “truth”.
It’s the second of the five yamas, or restraints, as presented in Patanjali’s yoga sutras. The other four are ahimsa (nonviolence), asteya (nonstealing), brahmacharya (sexual continence) and aparigraha (nongrasping).
The practice of satya is about restraint: slowing down, carefully choosing our words so that what we say is also in harmony with that first yama, ahimsa. Truthfulness should only flow from the spirit of nonviolence.
Your best friend might’ve put on a lot of weight during lockdown but it is not necessarily practicing satya to tell her so…
Satya means we are looking to have more integrity – speaking our truth but also living our truth. Rather than doing what everybody else tells us to do or what we think we have to do, using vidya, our innate knowledge or wisdom, to do what is right.
That way we get closer to our dharma – our life’s purpose. We start to ask the hard questions, the hardest of which is who am I? If I’m not a mother, who am I? If I’m not a wife, who am I? When you strip it right back, who is left?
We use our yoga practice to understand ourselves better. You can start by truthfully practicing on the level and energy you have for that day. Don’t force yourself to do things you know deep down you shouldn’t be doing. Equally, maybe don’t avoid poses you find hard, see how it feels to safely challenge yourself. Notice what comes up for you in the practice, the resistance to certain poses. The judgements of the poses, of the teacher, of yourself.
This pandemic has been the perfect time to sit with ourselves and move closer to our true selves, a higher state of conscious – to understand our contradictions, our dark and light, our emotional hinterlands. Life is not just one smooth road. It is textured.
Are we turning a blind eye to injustices around us?
Are we abusing other people’s kindnesses?
Do we live in self-righteousness or sanctimony?
What do we remain silent about when we struggle to say what we feel?
How often are we not speaking up for ourselves, worrying that what we feel is petty or small?
Are we not seeking help for our anxieties or our fears?
Things are so complicated and we will all feel different things at different times. Allow yourself the freedom to feel all those feelings, to process them by givng them some air time. Because it's only when we acknowledge them that we will be able to let go of them.
We also need to practice patience and presence. We can’t get to our “satya” if our brains are frazzled. You need to clear the space so you can listen to instinct.
Satya means being honest, listening to your intuition and then having the bravery to act on it. Remember things will never look like what you imagined, planned or how someone told you it would be. Instead of striving for perfection, why not turn towards the unknown and look into the dark spaces. You might be surprised by what you find there.
Its your imperfections and your vulnerability that make you more beautiful. As Leonard Cohen says, “It’s the cracks that let the light in.”
Know your cracks, love them, and allow them to let the light in.