Defining Satya and How to Adopt a Daily Practice


We all know we shouldn't lie. It's a basic tenant of almost every widespread religion, ideology, or belief system.

Even still... how many times are you less than truthful in a day? Do you tell your boss that you were "just about to work on that?" Maybe you tell a friend that "something came up" so you can get out of plans you didn't really want to make in the first place? (I'm guilty!)

Are "little white lies" like these fine when you're trying not to hurt someone's feelings? These "small" fibs seem inconsequential, but when they add up they can actually start to morph our reality.

Over time we become desensitized to the fact that we're even lying. It's not until we're open to receiving truthfulness that we're even able to acknowledge that we're lying... to ourselves and to other people!

How do we put in the self-work and address this? Let's dive into satya.

Defining Satya

Satya is the Sanskrit word for truthfulness. Sat has several meanings and translations, including "true nature" and "pure." It's the second of the five yamas, or restraints, described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. The Sutras are the basis of yogic philosophy.

This principle challenges us to invite truthfulness into our lives in every way - not just "lie" and "truth" - from thought to intention and speaking to acting. It begs us to speak about our reality in a way that is accurate to what is actually happening, not to what we wish or want to happen.

In practicing satya, we acknowledge that fibs and lies are outright harmful to ourselves and to others. When we decide to not act in truthfulness it creates a divide between ourselves and the Divine (whichever divinity you'd like to believe in).

Satya and Your Relationship With Self

It's easier to think about truthfulness in the context of someone else, but what about in your relationship with yourself? If your mind isn't currently capable of being honest with itself, you may find it exceptionally challenging to be honest with other people.

Let's look at satya in the context of our physical yoga practice. Most of us are guilty of pushing past body signals that indicate a certain posture just isn't for us that day. For whatever reason, though, the primitive ego isn't satisfied and we go for it anyways! Too often, this leads to injury and further disconnects us from our bodies... when the entire purpose of the physical yoga practice is to connect our bodies and minds.

Can you think of other ways you aren't truthful with yourself? (Here's a little hint: words like should or could often trigger dishonesty.)

Satya in Daily Practice

Adopting the practice of satya in your life can help you to actively close the divide between your self and Self (your current being and your Divine Being) and bring you in line with your life's purpose.

But I'm not saying it's easy! Practicing truthfulness can be exceptionally difficult. Just like with anything else, the only way we can flex our truth muscle is by practicing.

Try this: choose an hour or two out of today where everything you do and say is truthful. Stop yourself when you catch a fib coming out or, for bonus points, take back a fib you said and tell that person it's untrue.

When you're done with this practice, take 1-5 minutes to sit and reflect on what happened, what you found, and what you learned. Tomorrow, try lengthening the amount of time you focus on truthfulness!

Finally...the Satya Conundrum

Let's bring awareness to something before we leave the topic of satya. There are times in life when telling someone the truth will cause them greater harm than whatever their current situation is.

A general rule of thumb is this: don't be a jerk. Satya is a powerful tool and should be wielded with compassion and mindfulness. Complete truthfulness is important, but don't just go flinging it around.

The Sutras account for it being better to say or do nothing if someone will experience more harm knowing the truth than not knowing the truth. This is up to you to discern!