Every month, WE highlights a specific virtue from the yogic code of ethics, as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra, the most widely regarded text on yoga.
The second virtue in this 10-part blog series is Satya– truthfulness.
The guidelines found in the yogic code of ethics are distinguished into two groups: yamas, which focus on restraint (things not to do), and niyamas, which relate to our inner world and the attitudes we adopt toward ourselves.
Satya, which means truthfulness, is the second of the five yamas and is WE’s theme for February.
The Sanskrit word sat means “that which exists, that which is.” Satya, therefore, is seeing, speaking, thinking, and acting in a way that reflects the pure truth of things as they actually are without exaggeration, judgement or illusion. Since satya is a yama and the yamas are behavioral restraints, satya also means restraining our immediate response so that truth may be revealed in its fullest, purest form. Sometimes the best way to practice satya is to simply to be still, find some silence and listen for the quiet whisper of truth.
Satya also points to integration. Much like how we are taught to stack our joints one on top of the other for greatest stability in yoga class, satya is the spiritual practice of stacking our values one on top of the other and bringing all aspects of our being into alignment. When our thoughts, words, beliefs and actions are in alignment we gain greater stability and truth; we become integrated and whole beings whose words are in peaceful harmony with the way things are at the present moment.
When we are firmly established in the practice of satya, everything we say becomes true because we simply cannot say anything untrue. Our entire being is in harmony with the present moment. From this profound place of harmony, we simultaneously realize and deeply know that words can only reflect truth when they flow from a spirit of loving kindness (ahimsa). Satya directly follows ahimsa in the order of the yamas because there is no truth without love. Loving kindness is the entry point for truth. For only in the safety of love can truth be understood, held, and embraced.