Satya – Being True to Yourself
Do You Know Who You Are?
My concept of satya is really, simply…I am. I am me. I am Becca.
What is Satya?
This second of the Yamas, which is the first limb of the 8 limbed yoga path, is satya, which means truthfulness. Like all of these ethical principles of the yogic path, there is a gross more obvious meaning as well as subtler realm to discover. In its gross meaning, truthfulness is just what it sounds like, be honest, don’t lie, tell the truth – as long as it wouldn’t conflict with the first yama, ahimsa.
This is worth noting that we essentially add on to our principles, and they all work along with each other. So we are truthful and honest with others, unless it would cause them harm. A very simplistic example is if we don’t like someone’s new haircut, we don’t have to be honest and say that to their face because this would most likely hurt their feelings for no reason. We keep building with each yama or niyama we add into our daily practice, always being aware of how each one affects the others.
Being True to Oneself
Now on the subtler meanings of satya – truthfulness. So much more important and relevant to living healthily and happily, is being true to oneself. This is a concept as old as time, coming up in these 5000 year old yogic texts, many major religions, and literary references over the centuries. The Bible makes reference such as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “love thy neighbor as thyself,” which imply that in order to treat others well we must love ourselves (ahimsa!), and in order to love oneself, you must accept yourself as you are and be who God made you. The Koran references that “whosoever knows himself knows his Lord,” as well as many other references.
The most famous literary example of this concept is Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “to thine own self be true.” The full line of this is “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” This is saying also, that if you can be true to yourself, then it is impossible to be untrue with others as well.
What This Looks Like in the Modern Day
From my perspective, it is getting harder and harder to truly be oneself in all areas on ones life. With the technological revolution brings as many problems and downfalls as it does tools. External validation via likes and comments on social media can affect our happiness and our ability to be true to ourselves, because we want to be true to what others approve of in order to feel accepted and included.
This would be a fascinating practice of self-love, or ahimsa, tied in with satya to ask yourself the following questions in regard to social media, for example –
- Do you post things on social media genuinely to share information or updates about your life, or are you doing it to get reactions from others?
- If there were no comments or likes, would you still post on social media?
- How much do other people influence certain routine decisions of yours, such as:
- Where to go out to eat?
- Where to live?
- Where to work?
- To go to college, or not?
- What to wear?
These may seem like obvious answers at first, “well, of course I decide what I want to eat and what I want to wear!” But if we really dive in, so much of these daily basic routines of life are influenced greatly by the cultures we’ve grown up in, and the way we were raised. Which makes it that much harder to “break away” and live the life you truly want to live.
For me? I’m still getting to know Becca. I’m still finding the true her. This concept of me, myself, the I that is Becca isn’t something I even began exploring until I was about 28 years old and was going through a drastic life change. It never occurred to me to sit quietly and get to know the voices in my head and heart (which all turned out to be me, by the way!) and that they were even in there. I had just accepted everything I was taught as a child and young adolescent to be true, and the way things were, and the way of the world. Not that there was necessarily anything wrong with any of these things, I had a great childhood, but it just never occurred to me to go out in the world and learn about it for myself and come up with my own conclusions on how I felt about the ways of the world and how I wanted to show up and participate in this collective experience.
As I began to find out “who I am”, I unpacked a lot of different concepts. I would say things like “I am an entrepreneur” and “I am spiritual” and “I am an independent woman”, whereas now I see all of these as characteristics, or more gross descriptions of things I experience on a very surface level. Now my concept is really simply…I am. I am me. I am Becca. Everything else is movable, changeable, come and go. Everything else are just descriptions of things I’ve done, seen, experienced.
Knowing this and accepting that I may never know how and where I fit in this world is totally OK because I know me! And I believe to know me is to know God which again has been referenced above in many religions. I also believe that the more I know me, the more I know my fellow man since we are all the same. I recently heard someone say that “the highest level we all ever achieve is human”, so the better I get to know myself, my humanness, as well as my soul, the more I will know my brothers and sisters.
How To Get To Know Yourself
Well… I could a whole separate blog about this!! For me, I asked a lot of questions. I read a lot of books. I said yes to life experiences. I learned what I enjoy and what I don’t. Once I got to know the “outside” me it was much clearer who the “inside” me was. Sitting quietly in meditation and learning to observe rather than judge my mind and its thought has been a big part of this journey, and of course it is ongoing and will be never ending.