As we begin week two of exploring the Yamas and Niyamas of the Yoga Sutras, it is important to remember that Ahimsa is still very much connected to this Yama. Satya means truth, honesty, and integrity. To be truthful and honest in word, action, and thought. But first, does that truth cause harm? This can present challenges in being truthful and honest. If what we have to say is going to hurt someone, is it necessary to say? Or can we find a better way to say our truth without harming someone? Can we wait for a more opportune time to share the truth? It is important to know the difference between hurting someone intentionally and causing discomfort to someone when speaking the truth.
There are times when we tell our truth to intentionally cause harm to someone, perhaps we want them to feel the same pain we do. There are times when we tell the truth which may bring discomfort to someone, but in the end it will bring positive results. It is our job to learn the best way to share this truth. If the truth you share is coming from a place of intention to harm someone because of your own pain, then keep the lips sealed. If the truth you share is to help someone see a misstep that will help them in the long-run, be kind as you speak. For instance, if you get into an argument with someone and you are really mad, instead of saying words you can't take back like, "I hate you," or "I never want to see you again." Instead, say, "I'm really upset right now and I need my space," or "I'm having a really hard time keeping calm about this, can we discuss this after I've cooled off?" There have been times where I used my words and actions to intentionally harm people because I did not know how to practice Ahimsa in my Satya. I was a hurt person for a very long time and inflicting pain on others with my words and actions helped me (sick as it was) to alleviate some of my pain. I've acquired some new tools to help me process and manage my emotions better. Thank goodness for Yoga and therapy!
Satya, like Ahimsa, is part of the physical yoga practice. We practice them just like asana on our mat. When we take a pose that may not be right for us, but we take it anyway because we're looking around the room and thinking, "everyone else is doing it, so I'm doing it too." This may not be the wisest decision for us. I see this a lot with newer practitioners where they are still learning their edge. We need to be honest with ourselves and our limitations. Maybe we didn't sleep well the night before or we skipped a meal and we don't have the stamina today to hold the pose without causing injury, so we learn to back off. If we choose to power through the shape because of our competitive nature (ego,) we may injure ourselves. This is why we don't go beyond our edge. Which means, learning your limits or finding your "Goldilocks" shape; not too easy, not too hard, but just right. Ahimsa and satya allow us to stay safe on our mat.
Satya first needs to pass the test of Ahimsa. If the words, actions, or thoughts cause destruction, then there is no need to for it. Our personal truth can be very different from another person's personal truth. Keeping that in mind as we speak our Satya. Knowing our truth may cause damage, we use Ahimsa first. When we practice these two Yamas and recall them in our lives, we can begin to discern what is necessary to say, act, or think.
"If in doubt whether to observe Ahimsa or Satya, always go with Ahimsa."
Stay well, friends. Next week, I will be back with Asteya: non stealing.