Satya and Mulan

The second of five Yamas of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is Satya or ‘truthfulness’.  

“The word ‘sat’ literally translates as ‘true essence’ or ‘true nature’. It also means something that is pure and unchangeable. ‘Sat’ also means ‘that which exists’, ‘that which has no distortion’, ‘that which is beyond time, space and person’, and it also means ‘fact’ or ‘reality’.” []

This reminded me of the tagline of latest Disney movie release i.e. Mulan. Its tagline? Loyalty, Brave & True.

A summary of the movie for those who are unfamiliar with the story. Mulan is girl who is active, adventurous, naturally good in martial arts – everything that a girl should not be in ancient Imperial China to wed a good husband. Hence, her parents wanted her to hide these sides of her so that she can get a good husband and bring honour to the family, the only way they felt a daughter can do so.

Ancient Imperial China was in war then and each family had to contribute a man to join in battle. Mulan’s ailing father was forced to serve the Imperial Army as he does not have a son. Mulan then decided to disguise herself as a man and take her father’s place to serve in the Imperial Army.

Initially, Mulan hid her gender and her talent in martial arts to blend in with the rest of the soldiers. However, eventually she learnt to embrace her true self instead of hiding away her identity and power. In the result, she accomplished great success and brought honour to her family.

Personally, I find practicing Satya towards self the hardest. We tend to identify ourselves with our thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc. that we get lost as to who we truly are. We forget how to listen to our self. Moreover, after years of being dishonest with oneself, it takes courage to be honest again. Baby steps at a time, baby steps at a time …

Some ways we can start practicing Satya in our daily lives:

  1. Slow down your mind and observe your thoughts

Many times, especially in this fast-paced, hyper-connected world, we are in a reactive mode. Not all emails, messages need to be responded immediately. Not all emails, messages need to be responded at all. The same goes for our thoughts.

     2.  Be genuine

Recall those times where you did not want to attend a gathering and you gave some fake excuse, instead of just declining the invite? Or those times where you forced yourself to attend it even though you know the gathering will be a gossip, catch-up session which has no meaning to you at all?

Start by expressing your true response. Accept if you truly want to attend, decline if you do not want to.

  1. Speak your truth

Remember the acronym THINK when you speak.

T—Is it true?

H—Is it helpful?

I—Is it inspiring?

N—Is it necessary?

K—Is it kind?

More often than not, there is a kinder way to phrase our words. Slow down, take the time to reflect on the words.


We may not accomplish feats like Mulan but I think that we can all live a more congruent life. I know I will be practicing these baby steps to discovering myself again.