Truth is liberating. It can also be complicated. And it is always powerful, so powerful that the Yoga Sutras tell us that when we are “dedicated to truth and integrity, our thoughts, words and actions gain the power to manifest.” Truth is full of consequences - positive and negative. That is why so many people avoid it, preferring the convenience of white lies, because as this sutra teaches, truth moves situations and people around in relation to it, and sometimes that much power is scary. So why is practicing truth an important element to the cultivation of a happy and harmonious life?
Quite simply, if we are not living what is true for us deep in our heart of hearts, then we are not living our life. We are living someone else’s and we are living a lie. Our inner truth is our guide to right movement on life’s path, and it is found in deep stillness, where we meet our authentic self in clarity and conviction. Only when we live in full integrity are we able to express our unique, integrated, and joyful purpose.
Integrity with ourselves takes courage because we may not always like what we discover within. It may require us to make some difficult admissions and changes. Being honest with others requires courage because they may not like what they hear and they may reject or leave us. However, being honest with others and ourselves is worth all of the above. Anyone who has lived inauthenticly, suppressing or selling out who they are for the sake of relationship or perceived peace, knows that eventually this becomes so painful that resentment obscures any initial loving intention.
When we can stand courageously in our truth, we free ourselves and we free others to express theirs. And they will. We create safe space for each other’s truth by honoring and appreciating the conflicting feelings of the moment, even if they are sometimes hard to hear, not judging but listening with our hearts.
Yoga’s teachings on Satya or integrity often ask us to examine whether telling the truth is kind, necessary, and non-harming. Kindness and mercy are required partners to truth. We cannot spew out all of our truth in a hurtful, vindictive, see-what-you’ve-done-to-me way and expect healing to take place. The essential compass for whether our truth telling is necessary lies in our intention. We must share our truth with a loving intention to foster deeper understanding, and harmony. When shared in this way, truth, no matter how difficult, can be healing, balancing and opening, blessing all the lives it touches.
Truthfulness requires us to take responsibility. It requires us to forgive ourselves and others, to embrace learning through hurt and failure sometimes, and to act courageously even when we are fearful. It is essential to our inner well being, to our ability to cultivate authentic relationships, and to give direction to our path in life.
Accessing inner truth begins through body awareness, for without the wisdom of the body we become like machines and we lose our testing ground for truth. Our bodies are incredible communicators if we just take the time to listen. Truth can be felt in every cell of our being. Slow down and listen to what is happening in the body. By focusing on the quality and depth of the breath and sensations as they arise, our bodies are able to communicate truth in a way our minds cannot. When we listen closely to the body, we can identify emotional reactions in terms of body sensations. For example, anger might feel like a tight fist in the belly, sadness might feel like pressure on the chest, resentment might feel like heaviness on the shoulders. Once we have an understanding of how our body communicates feelings, needs, and directions, then we have a continual meter of truth.
In the same way that ‘knowledge is power’ in terms of understanding something cognitively, body knowledge is power in sensing what is the right and appropriate action or movement at any moment of our life. As we spend time listening to the body’s way of delivering messages, we will attune to a deeper wisdom, an intuitive wisdom that will be a powerful measure of how truthfully we are acting and reacting in our life choices.
Satya sets us free to live the life that is uniquely ours to live and that brings the greatest joy imaginable.
This article is part of an ongoing series on the yamas and niyamas. For the full 10-part series click on each link below: