The Truth of the Matter

When looking to discuss, define and explain Truth, we must find our way in our hearts and minds to the present moment because that is where it resides.

The concept of truth has been in the minds and hearts of humankind since the beginning of our existence and many wise people have shared their insights about it throughout the centuries. East, West, North, South...people, religions, and traditions around the globe have something to say about truth, and have even expanded on other's ideas:

"The truth will set you free." (Jesus Christ/ The Bible)

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." (Gloria Steinem)

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you." (David Foster Wallace)

"Truth is not for comfort - it's for liberation. It's not a medicine, it's a killer." (Sadhguru)

"The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth." (Lao Tzu)

"Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile." (Paulo Coehlo)

To get to the heart of truth, it seems there may come with it some struggle or conflict to be resolved. Only when we know the truth about something, can we begin the process of healing and growth. Where do we start? Many of us aren't fully aware of the truth of our own true selves which may be hidden or obscured from us by blocked energy or simply lack of self understanding. Any practices that help us to challenge our assumptions, thoughtfully reflect on them and bring us into the present moment can bring us closer to finding that truth within and discerning truth more easily in our outer environment.

In Yoga, Satya, the 2nd of the Yamas in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, is simply translated in English, as "truth" or "essence". Part of this truth expressed in the yamas is about speaking & acting honestly in every day life. There is also a larger, fundamental truth being referred to that is often written as Truth with a capital "T" because it is directing us to that internal truth, to the essence of our true being. These truths go hand in hand, the suggestion being that if you are living in Truth, then truth in daily life flows from you and to you more easily. When we're actually on the yoga mat, satya is meant to guide us towards truth and honesty with thoughtfully and truthfully honor ourselves in each moment and know that those moments are changing all the time. Ultimately, Satya arises when we connect with our highest consciousness.

For many of us, one of the hardest things to do is to truly be in the present moment consistently. We probably succeed in being there only a small fraction of our day as we are pulled by what happened yesterday, two minutes ago or 20 years ago, as well as what might happen tomorrow, in the next half hour, or 20 years from now. Satya is only in the present moment. The past is obscured by our memory and emotional attachment and therefore not reliable. It doesn't mean that what we think or how we feel about past situations isn't worth exploring, but finding the truth of them in the present takes awareness and reflection. The future is always unknown. It has not yet come to pass, we cannot know for sure exactly what will transpire, therefore there can be no truth in it during the present.

Satya is not truth in a bubble. The five yamas are interdependent and there is a balance between them according to their order. The first yama, ahimsa (no harm/non-violence/kindness), is first for a reason and is meant to be considered first when determining the thoughts and actions of satya. In this consideration, we may sometimes end up sacrificing the truth in order to avoid violence, for example. The mere act of imposing our ideas, thoughts & points of view on others can be considered arrogant and violent. Satya indicates the positive use of the truth and of mental actions, towards ourselves as well as towards others. Does this mean we are always "nice"? If we consider the quote above from Paulo Coelho, could it be positive to make someone cry from the truth and negative to make them smile with a lie? Oftentimes when we are unable or unwilling to face a particular truth about ourselves, that avoidance ends up having a detrimental effect on our lives. Finding the courage to look at what's true, even if it makes us cry can be an act of compassion, giving us the opportunity to release the blocked energy of not accepting that truth, and bring us the freedom of integrating that part of us fully into our being. On the other hand, being lied to in order to save us from temporarily feeling hurt could keep us blind to our truth and suffering from it even longer.

Bringing our attention back to the is called a mind-body practice for a reason. The truest expression of each asana pose is meant to include all parts of ourselves. How do we find an honest practice and what does that mean? When we ignore or forget the balance between the yamas for the sake of the pose, we lose the full integrity, the connection, the Yoga, and Satya is no longer present. It also makes it more difficult to bring these concepts into our lives fully when we neglect to mindfully incorporate them into our practice. If we push ourselves too hard on the mat when we need to be more easy with ourselves, it's likely we will push ourselves too hard in our daily lives as well, when what is truly needed is a more gentle attitude. The opposite may also hold true if we are too cautious to try out something new or different, we may remain stuck in not being able to take bolder steps in our lives. It starts with us, with our internal conversations and self-reflections. What we experience and do on the mat can actually have a direct impact on how we think, respond and live our lives. If we are sacrificing ourselves on the mat for the sake of the pose (how it looks, how "good" we can do it or can't do it), chances are we are sacrificing ourselves in some similar way off the mat too. If we start with kindness (ahimsa) towards ourselves, the direction, the action, the words, the truth (satya) will reveal itself to us.

As we move into the last few weeks of the year, its a great time to put a little extra attention on re-evaluating our actions and thoughts prior to the coming new year. We can bring that attention and intention into our daily yoga practice over the next few weeks and just notice what we become more aware of. We can try meditating and/or journaling for a few minutes after each class, maybe write down anything that comes up during class that you'd like to put some loving attention towards. However you decide to explore and expand your awareness, it's sure to bring you that much closer to your own truth and your own Truth (Satya).

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