In the yoga yamas, Satya is the principle of committing to truthfulness. All the yamas work together to help us eliminate karma (or baggage). That is to say, what we say in truth, we must also do in kindness. When I began observing Satya, I wondered, in what ways am I true and how do I lie?

After a few weeks of mindfulness, I realized I found Satya challenging (near impossible!).

In North America, we hide behind rules of etiquette and political correctness and we’re taught to spare people’s feelings, and we’re encouraged to be diplomatic. If you’re a jerk, no one will like you (shocking!) and if you can’t navigate office politics, you won’t get that promotion (the horror!). We also dread conflict (awkward!) and think we must avoid it at all cost (please, please, please let it not blow up in my face!), and so, we often dance around delicate or difficult subjects. Then, to make matters worse, we ASSUME other people’s thoughts and feelings and create misunderstandings.

So how did this translate into my life?

Being Untrue To Myself

I noticed I often made myself excuses for some of my less admirable behaviours or why I didn’t honour my self-care regimen. I often set myself up to fail in projects that mean so much to me because I’m afraid of being a fraud and being found out. Satya showed me I was untrue to myself.

“Editing” Out of Fear

In my relationships, I heard myself edit my speech to certain people. I too often told half truths, because I was afraid of reproach and judgement, or because I assumed the other person couldn’t handle the complete truth. I’m not as big a fan of white lies because I use them less and most people can see through them (or “feel” through them) but I’ve used them in the past. White lies can be more damaging than the truth. Saying “No, that dress looks great on you!” When really, it looks pretty terrible will result in your friend buying/wearing a dress that won’t suit her and eventually, she’ll figure it out and regret it. (With kindness, you can say “I don’t think this dress flatters you. Maybe try this one instead?”)

Lying by omission (or in my case, “editing”) can hurt someone by giving them an incomplete picture of a situation. Imagine that you’re trying to decide who to bring on holiday with you, you ask your partner for his opinion, and he knows your friend has been spreading rumors behind your back but your sister would love to go with you. If he doesn’t tell you that your friend is a gossip, who know the disaster this trip can be.

Satya WIDE Centre

Courage To Hold Truthful Space

I was on the phone with a loved one and they mentioned not hearing from another family member of mine, and I went in “feelings protection mode” as though it was my job. First of all, I have no idea what this family member is thinking/feeling/doing and second of all, it’s not my responsibility to find an excuse for this family member or an explanation for my loved one on why they aren’t hearing from the former.

I realized I had releasing work to do because I was not responsible for this person’s feelings or the situation at all. And the discomfort of someone’s hurt feelings are not to be brushed away; they need to be felt. Holding space for truth won’t always be comfortable, even if we’re not the ones delivering inconvenient truths. Does that mean we should cast a shadow on it and “make it go away”? No.

It takes courage and commitment to be truthful, both with ourselves and others. Let’s step up to the challenge of speaking truth and allowing it to be revealed without obstructing the process.

In what areas of your life could you be more truthful? Why are you afraid of speaking the truth? How can you speak your truth while being kind?