The spiritual practice of Yoga is a journey of self-inquiry and anyone embarking on this journey will eventually be faced with the necessity of getting honest; honest with themselves and others about who they really are. This means that early on in our Yoga practice we are asked to cultivate the quality of truth, or Satya. As Satya is one of the five aspects of the first limb of Ashtanga Yoga – or the eight-fold path of Yoga that leads to ultimate freedom or liberation, we might say that being truthful is inevitable for the attainment of freedom and the experience of oneness, unity, Yoga.
Now, Satya, being truthful in word, thought and deed, is not merely about not telling lies to others and making things true that we actually know to not be true. Even though this is certainly a part of being truthful, Satya is not just about not telling someone you have an important appointment when you simply do not want to see them, not cheating on a partner or telling white lies to make yourself look better or avoid hurting others. Real Satya runs much deeper and requires courage and thoroughness.
In order to be truthful we first have to let go off all our mental and emotional conditionings. We all have an image that we present to the outer world, to our friends, families, at our workplace, even in our Yoga practice and mostly to ourselves. There is this kind of person we want to be or think we ought to be in order to be liked, to be successful and approved of by others. To keep up this image, which is really our ego, we might invest a lot of money in things we do not really need and time in activities that do not feel authentic for us. We tend to take pictures that only present the most exciting and glamorous parts of our lives and skilfully edit out those parts that would show a side of ourselves we think should not be there. Satya asks us to let go off all these things, to get to know our truth and start to live and act on this truth in all aspects of our lives.
This requires courage because the reason we build up and invest in an ideal image of ourselves in the first place is simply fear. Fear of being rejected if we do not act how we think others want us to, fear of not belonging anymore if we voice our opinions that might be different from that of the people around us, and finally fear of the feeling of being disconnected that could surface if we stopped doing all these things that create the illusion of being connected. So we need a whole lot of courage to let go of these fears and start being truthful, honest and authentic. This is why we practice Yoga, this is why we find a community, join a Kula: to be together, to learn together how to be honest, how to show our true selves and to begin trusting that we will not be rejected or ridiculed if we do so.
Even more importantly, however, will be the experience of the results of begin honest with ourselves that will encourage us to continue on the path of truth and the letting go off the Ego. Through being honest and authentic a sense of mental clarity and inner peace will develop, which we will not lightly want to swap for the short-lived satisfaction of the ego which we might get from apparent approval of others or external validation. If we can start being content and okay with who we really are and stand in our own truth no matter what, we let go of all dependencies on the outer world, which will allow us to release all sufferings and instead of seeing what we can get out of others and what life can give us, we will be more interested in what we can give. This then is how “the truth will set us free”!
Let your authentic Self shine and may it serve as an inspiration for others to do the same.
by Carina Hilmar