Let’s Be Honest
If the mind thinks thoughts of truth, if the tongue speaks words of truth and if the whole life is based upon truth, then one becomes fit for union with the Infinite.” –B. K. S. Iyengar
The second yama is Satya, truthfulness. “Ok,” you may say to yourself, “I’m an honest person. I don’t lie. Well, maybe except for a little white lie every now and again. And that’s ok, isn’t it?”
A commitment to the truth means that we vow to be honest in all aspects of our selves and our lives–in thought, word, and deed. How many times have we justified actions that we inherently knew weren’t right, just so that we could feel better about ourselves for having made those choices? As we grow deeper in our commitment to the truth, we peel away the layers of justification, rationalization, obfuscation–all the little ways that we bend the truth–so that we can pierce through illusion and experience reality. From that place, beyond the activity of the egoic mind, we can think, speak, and act with clarity. The truth isn’t something we choose because it’s the right thing to do, it’s something that we live because it is who we are.
It is only when we are fully aware of our inner truth that we can authentically express ourselves and our truths to the outer world. Our asana practice gives us a marvelous opportunity to put into practice this seemingly immense concept–how to think and act with honesty, from the inside out.
We begin where we are, with our flesh and blood and bones, with our fears, neuroses, and hangups, and we learn how to honor ourselves–all of our selves–regardless. We meet our inflexibility with kindness, and we begin to soften. We notice the places that feel weak or out of balance, and we transform. We learn how to stand with awareness, how to breathe with joy, how to just be. We realize that the mistakes we made yesterday do not have to intrude upon today; we can use them to change what doesn’t work and embrace something that does.
When we step onto the mat we take a moment to sense the fullness, the utter aliveness, of the body. A wave of relief may cascade over us–we’ve come home to ourselves. We breathe. We begin to move with awareness, and when we find ourselves in a pose that is challenging, we become even more awake. The mind may say, “I should be able to do this pose by now.” If we believe that lie, we may push ourselves to the point of injury. If we are practicing ahimsa (non-violence), then we know to move to a place where we can breathe without causing pain. We soften. With kindness and respect, we go on to the next pose, the next breath, fully aware, fully awake, honestly assessing the body’s abilities in each moment.
Our bodily sensations are the truest of friends. The hamstrings do not lie–only the mind that says we should be able to touch our toes by now. So we hold the mind with kindness too. We bathe it with a rhythmic breath that reassures and heals. Little by little, the mind lets go, and we are free.
“Why am I here?” This is a good question to ask yourself every time you come to your mat. Get clear about what brought you here. Take a moment to listen, and see if you have a goal for your practice. Is it to get a work out? Exercise? To be in better shape? Do you long for connection, for a sense of community with like-minded people? Are you wanting to discover who you are beyond your body, what is out there beyond what your senses can perceive? If you answer truthfully and hold your intention with awareness, you can soften and allow new intentions to arise. Instead of constantly checking in and seeing if you have met your goal for your practice, you can relax into being, and let it all be enough.
Although Satya means “to speak the truth,” it is so much more than deciding to never tell another lie. Our yoga practice gives us a chance to explore the depth of what commitment to the truth really means. As we become aware of the many ways the mind fabricates untruths, we learn discernment, how to distinguish between what is real and what is not. From that place we choose actions that respect, honor and cherish who we are in this moment. Fully established in this awareness, when it comes time to step off of our mat, our words and deeds reflect the honesty that has taken root within us.
What truth is alive in you in this moment?