Patanjali laid out an 8 Limbed Path of Yoga to connect with the deepest layers of Self and ultimately to find happiness. The 8-Fold Path consists of:
- Yama (how to treat others)- non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, virtuous sexuality and non-attachment
- Niyama (how you treat yourself)- cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self-study, surrender to something larger than you
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breathwork)
- Pratyahara (withdraw of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration or focused mind)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (bliss or union with the divine)
Satya: Speaking Your Truth
“Somewhere in the middle always lies the truth.” ~Anonymous
In India, Satya has the meaning that when a yogi is so completely rooted in truth what he says comes into being. In the West, I think we are far from this. We are working on it, but truthfulness is often not a value we dissect and ponder. We may think we are truthful beings. We may believe everything we think. But sometimes truth is more than this. Satya means looking beyond your tightly held perception of people, places and things and seeing the truth of what is.
This is challenging to do on a day to day basis. Especially if we have not had practice in challenging or witnessing our own thoughts. Our thoughts are more what Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness.” Part fact, part fiction. In order for us to begin to speak the truth, we have to bear witness to what is truth in our own heads and hearts and what is truth for others. We have to peel apart fact from perception and underneath is a core of truth.
Once you begin to see through your “truthiness,” you can begin to speak more openly and honestly with those around you. You are able to share the joys, the sorrows, the hurts, the frustrations, the ups and downs without fear of repercussions. Some people really like to share their “truths” with others, but forget two things. They forget that the first precept of yoga is ahimsa (kindness) and they forget to bear witness to what is truth and what is clouded by personal pain and fear. Some people throw their version of truth in a hurtful way- speaking behind people’s backs, accusing people of things without asking directly, and they forget to see the person with kindness and compassion first.
Here is the best way I can help you in deciding if you are speaking truth. I learned this as an elementary school teacher and it is invaluable as an adult. Before speaking, ask yourself this:
- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it necessary?
Rolf Gates suggests the following for every conversation and every mundane activity:
- Are you being truthful in thought, word and deed?
- Are you living truthfully from the inside out?
May we all strive to first see ourselves truthfully and then live out this truth with a gentle kindness in our hearts. This path is not the easy one, but what would our world be like if more people just tried a bit more kindness and bit more truthfulness? We just might find our world transformed.
“As the layers of falsehood fall away, an intimacy develops with our own truth. Ultimately our truth becomes all there is. Truth becomes our essence and our reality, our deepest desire, and the air that we breathe.” ~Rolf Gates