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Satya (the Second Yama): How to Stop Telling Stories and Start Living Your Truth!

Kerry Fantelli
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When we think of yoga, we often imagine a mat with a flexible body moving around on it. The path of yoga is one that is eightfold, as told by Patanjali. Asana, the physical practice of yoga, is but one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga.
 
Yogic texts explain the different aspects of this path in order to reach the final, last stage: enlightenment. The eightfold path is often depicted as a wheel, because each of the parts interrelate and correlate with one another. One part is not separate from any other – they all work in harmony, in a wheel that keeps turning.
 
The Yamas (link to Alisha Leytem’s Re-Focus Your Life by Exploring the Yamas article) are the first spoke in the wheel, the first lesson. The Yamas involve ethical principles meant to bring us peace – with ourselves, our family, and our community.
 

Satya – Commitment to the Truth

The Satya Yama is based on the understanding that honest communication and living is the basis for all of our relationships: with ourselves, with others, and with society as a whole.
 
The opposite of living truly is often where we find ourselves. We end up living with deception, speaking with exaggerations, and mistruths. We want to “look the part” and social media has fed this life of misrepresentation.
 
We all know that social media is a snapshot, a literal snapshot. It is not real. Real is sitting next to someone or sharing a meal, or a face-to-face conversation. When we get swallowed up in the lives of others ‘out there’ all we are doing is harming our own truth.
 

The opposite of living truly is often where we find ourselves. We end up living with deception, speaking with exaggerations, and mistruths. We want to “look the part” and social media has fed this life of misrepresentation.

 
It is okay to unplug and remove yourself from the constant social media updates, scrolling, and comparing. Remember that we are all human beings, living with human emotions and that perfect yoga selfie on Facebook does not represent Satya.
 

Apply Satya to your daily life so you can begin living your personal truth. Here’s how:

 

Step 1. Speak your truth

We can start the process of living truthfully by speaking truthfully. In order to speak only truth, we need to know the absolute of what we are saying.
 
As the lovely Sufi saying goes, “Before you let your words pass your lips, let them pass through three gates. Ask yourself: is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
 
Truth is the first and foremost gate. If we blurt out gossip or judgments, what good are we adding to the world? It takes practice, this three gated speech process, but it allows a certain simplicity and it is less painful than avoidance, spreading gossip, and self-deception.
 

As the lovely Sufi saying goes, “Before you let your words pass your lips, let them pass through three gates. Ask yourself: is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”

 
Learn more about speaking your truth by reading this article on the Throat Chakra.
 

Step 2. Heal your past

How can we connect ourselves with our hearts to live with truth and love as one of the spokes on our wheel?
 
It may mean leaving our pain behind us and allowing our truth to heal the past. Pain can poison our personal truth. It can block us and keep us from our true way of living and relating to others.
We can drop our pain stories and learn the path of true living instead. We can do this by connecting to our healing and our truth.
 
How? The next time your heart gets broken, or your life is in chaos, stop and ask yourself, What truth am I learning about myself through this experience? Typically when things fall apart, it is because we are not living honestly and need to examine where in our lives we are not honoring ourselves.
 
It is during those times that the cracks allow the light to be directed into our innermost desires.
 

 

Step 3. How to handle your pain and anger

They say that hurt people are the ones that hurt other people. “Hurt people.” Aren’t we all hurt in some way? The question is, what do you do with your pain? Because hurt people can also heal and help other people.
 
Do you allow your paranoia of how you could get hurt to repeat over and over again in your head until it takes over and becomes a paralyzing reality? Because that’s exactly what happens when you allow the pain, the hurt, and the fear to take over.
 
We can pick our battles, or even better, not battle at all. We can choose to always return to our true nature, which is love.
 
Underneath anger is always the desire to be understood and loved. Yet when that anger is aimed right at you, with bullet words, and piercing pain arrows, how can you stay calm? How can you look pain right in the eyes and say, I see you and I won’t fight back? It is a choice.
 
You can listen, hear what the other is saying and not allow it to find its way into your being. You don’t have to be right all the time, and you definitely don’t have to have the last word. This is a huge challenge for many of us. So how do we collectively support one another and how on earth do we start the process of cooling the flames of anger?
 
Your mind is often sharp and ready to battle, but your heart, well that is your path of Satya. That is your truth.
 
You can choose being true to yourself, living honestly and remembering those three gates of speech. Before you lash out in anger or get swallowed by your own pain, ask yourself – is what you are about to say or think true, necessary or kind?
 

Your mind is often sharp and ready to battle, but your heart, well that is your path of Satya. That is your truth.

 

Step 4. Embody your Satya

Some of us are afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, so instead of speaking honestly, we hold our words inside. There is a difference between blurting out gossip, or hurtful, unnecessary statements versus speaking and living our personal truth.
 
If we never tell someone that their behavior is hurtful, or if we hold in all of our pain, those three gates of speech are not being honored. If you find yourself saying “it is okay” when it really is not, look at why you keep saying that everything is fine. If something does not feel right, then it is usually not right!
 
Your heart always knows your truth. I invite you to listen to it. How? Find quiet time. Perhaps you can meditate, or walk in the woods, or sit near water. Whatever you can do to find peaceful quiet and allow your heart to talk to your mind.
 
There are ways to express yourself that allow the truth to spill out kindly, mindfully and with your heart behind your words.
 
Try this technique: When you have a thought, but before you allow it to become words that your mouth is saying, imagine putting that thought and those words into your heart. Allow them to settle there and then, with the softness of your heart, speak. Your mind is often sharp and ready to battle, but your heart, well that is your path of Satya. That is your truth.
 

There are ways to express yourself that allow the truth to spill out kindly, mindfully and with your heart behind your words.

 

Step 5. The takeaway

Satya – living and speaking truthfully – can and will clear up a lot of mental clutter and bandwidth. We can all use the three gates of speech a bit more. It gets easier with practice, as most things do.
 
By being your authentic you, you allow others to live the same way. By speaking with kind truth, your relationships will flourish and grow, particularly the most integral relationship – the one with yourself.
 
In closing, I leave you with the wise, inspiring words of Lao Tzu:
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
 

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Kerry Fantelli

Kerry Fantelli is a medical professional, yoga practitioner, and instructor. Recently, Kerry has been reading her writing after her yoga classes and also has shared poems with her patients that she hopes may find solace in her words. She is a healer and loves to write with the theme of helping, easing, and understanding emotions. She lives in Burlington, Vermont with her beautiful daughter, Thabitha, who is a source of constant inspiration.

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