Satya in our daily lives

Ho Hui Lin 200hr Weekend class Jan to May 2014

“Asatoma Sat Gamaya”

Bring me from untruth or ignorance to truth. The first sentence of the Shanti Mantra (Mantra of peace) may seem to be an abstract idea. It relates to Satya or truthfulness, one of the principles under Yama. How do we practice Satya in our daily lives? For me, there are 3 aspects of Satya that I can identify with or practice.

Firstly, to be truthful means being genuine or authentic as much as possible. This really spoke out to me, as I have some difficulties being myself in front of others. This even included my parents and close friends at certain times of my life. Societal pressure and family expectations may have weighed down on me, making me think that I should act in a certain way to be accepted. We should understand that our true selves are our best selves, and that it is alright to be you. This includes talking about things you really believe in, instead of engaging in meaningless chit chat or gossip just to kill the silence. When people sense that you are sincere in your words and actions, they will start to warm up to you, and trust you. Of course, this does not mean that we should continue with any bad habits or doings because “this is me”. Life is about being true to your own self, reflecting on your actions and developing yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. This is where yoga comes in!

Secondly, after learning that the consistency of our inhale and exhale breath can help us to practice Satya, I started to notice my breath each time I was with others. When I was with people I did not know very well, I wanted to appear outgoing and nice, and noticed that my breath became shallower! When I just concentrated on breathing deeply (and maybe because I cannot multi-task), that made me less pretentious in front of people. In a team meeting at work, I noticed that when I wanted to challenge my big boss, before I spoke up, I could feel my heart beating faster and faster! I was a) afraid of being judged b) afraid that my boss would not like me as much after I made the comment. I just spoke up anyway, but because I was nervous, I was not my true self.

I suggest visualization together with breathing to practice Satya. Imagine yourself in a difficult or challenging situation, and make the picture in your mind as vivid as possible. If your breathing starts to become shallow or heart beats faster, try to regulate your breathing, or imagine yourself doing that in the situation. By combining the power of the mind and breath, this could be a helpful transformation of our mindset in situations where we feel uncomfortable.

Thirdly, Satya also means understanding that what we think we know may not be the truth. For example, if you are teaching a yoga class, instead of telling students “this pose is good for you, you should try it”, you can say “I am going to let you try a pose, see if it works for you”. This can cause the perspective of the student to shift from him being good or bad in a pose, to a more exploratory and positive attitude when trying the pose.

By practicing Satya in our daily lives, we can hopefully draw closer to the truth, and ultimately towards enlightenment.