Have you ever told a white lie for what seemed like a good reason- and then got caught up in layer after layer of complication?
Or found yourself talking with some friends about an acquaintance in a way that you knew was unkind- and then felt bad, after, when you saw that person?
Have you ever indulged in a habit that you knew was a bad idea for you- and then felt awful afterward?
Yeah, me too.
“That which is false troubles the heart, but truth brings joyous tranquility” -Rumi
Right on, Rumi. It doesn’t feel good when we’re false in thought, word or deed. As always, yoga has a solution. This week in class I’m exploring the second of Patanjali’s Yamas, which is satya, or truth.
A nice way to get started is through your practice on the mat. Begin to listen to your internal narrative, and question what it says. You’ll know it’s time to tune in when your emotions start to act up. If you’re feeling stressed, irritable, or unhappy, during a challenging posture, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing one of these common thoughts:
- “This pose sucks. Why would I even want to balance on one foot while holding my big toe?”
- “This teacher doesn’t know what she’s doing. It’s her fault. She didn’t give us the right information to get us into the posture.”
- “Everyone else can do it. There must be something wrong with me.”
Other variations can include, Blaming Society, Blaming Parents, Blaming Your Job, Blaming the Guy Who Cut You Off in the Pickup Truck and Made You Late So You Had To Put Your Mat Too Close to the Wall, etc.
If you find yourself thinking any of these things, congratulations! You’ve identified a place to work. Now it’s time to decide- is your thought true? What is the reality behind this thought? What could you accurately say instead? Perhaps, “I am finding this pose challenging today” might be enough for today.
Gradually, it becomes easier to trace thoughts back to their truthful origins, and you can take the practice off the mat. In your day-to-day life, when you are feeling a strong, unpleasant emotion, stop and listen to the internal talk. What are you saying to yourself? What truth are you filtering? How do you feel when you get down to the truth?
Once you’ve learned to identify truth, you may even wish you could put the genie back in the bottle. It’s a life-changer. Now, as you talk to friends, and experience daily interactions, you’ll notice that you often say all kinds of things that you know aren’t really true. That don’t represent the true you.
Before you know it, you’ll begin to change how you speak to others, and after that, how you act, as well.
You’ll have to, you see, because by then you’ll have found that it feels so much better when you 1) think the truth and 2) speak the truth and 3) live your truth.
Or that’s where we’re headed, anyway. As always, go easy and be gentle with yourself as you practice. There’s a reason that ahimsa (non-violence) is the first of the yamas. We want to always temper our truth with the sweet touch of kindness.
How do you practice satya? What have your challenges been? Please leave a comment below- I’d love to hear from you!