Hello Beautiful Friends,
Welcome back for the second week of the ten post series all about the yamas and niyamas of the eight limbs of yoga. In case you missed the first week or the introduction that explains what this series is all about, be sure to head over and catch up!
The second tenant of the yamas is all about truthfulness, known as Satya. As is true for Ahimsa, Satya calls for us to be truthful to both others and ourselves, a theme you might find common throughout all the tenants.
Before we dive in, an important concept to keep in mind is that truthfulness does not mean that we should be brutally honest in all situations to all people all the time. Rather, think of truthfulness as being married with non-violence. Ahimsa and Satya are in this beautiful relationship, supporting and grounding each other. Your truth should not be used as a weapon with which to wield around as you please.
With that, here are the pieces that make up our second tenant, Satya.
Be Real Rather Than Nice
Have you ever heard that saying, "You have to watch out for the nice ones"? Mmm, me either. I don't think this is a common saying, but if you think about it, there's actually some truth to this. People who are nice all the time, while they might be pleasant to be around, are seriously holding back on the truth. If you are nice to others all the time, you are never being real with them, telling them how you truly feel or where they might have made a mistake.
Really, being nice is just an illusion formed by both external and internal expectations and a desire to manage others.
The real shame in being the "nice one" is that you end up holding your truth in all day everyday, all for the comfort of others...and maybe to some degree, your own comfort. But, all this holding in and pushing down ends up leading to us one day exploding, because we can't hold everything in forever.
This is the perfect explanation for how I used to be. Everyone considered me to be so nice. I heard it all the time and was known for it. I used to pride myself on being nice to everyone, but really I was just afraid if I told people what I really thought they would shun me. As a result, I would lash out at my partner. It wouldn't happen all the time, but when it did happen, it was pretty bad. Full out yelling, getting in his face....you know, the dirty way to fight. He took the brunt of all my pent up feelings because he was my safe person to express myself with. Once I started telling others what I actually thought and speaking up, the fights with my partner decreased. Hmm...coincidence? I don't think so.
Self-Expression vs. Self-Indulgence
Another consequence of holding back on speaking our truth is indulgence. When we alter ourselves to fit all the "should" and "should nots" we end up dulling who we really are. And, the thing is, that energy has to go somewhere. But, since we likely feel pretty shitty about not being truthful, we end up indulging in negative things.
We might end up overeating when we get home from a long day. Maybe we turn to alcohol to numb some of those crappy feelings. We seek external pleasures to feel better about not being ourselves.
Belonging vs. Growing
It's pretty fundamental to being a human that we all want to feel like we belong. We find groups that help us feel like we're a part of something, loved, and understood. These can be friends, religious groups, school, a Facebook group, sports team, fitness classes - the list goes on. However, another lesser known fundamental to our species is the desire to grow. We all want to learn, explore, try new things, grow into our true selves.
If we find groups that help us both feel a sense of belonging and accept our growth, then we have found something beautiful, a lovely match where we get to be loved and encouraged for being ourselves. The problem arises when we mold ourselves into something we're not in order to remain a part of the group.
When this happens, we are faced with a big decision - stifle who we really are in order to remain in the group or be ourselves and risk sacrificing approval from the group. Neither choice is wrong, it's just exactly that..a choice. We have to decide which is more important and face the associated risk.
So, here's the part where you have to look inward and look for times that you've lied to yourself. These are really important moments to learn from and work on that most important relationship, the one with yourself.
When we lie to ourselves, we are proving that we are unworthy of being trusted. These lies can come in the most sneaky form, too. For example, have you ever lied to yourself about how much time you have in a day? What about thinking that you can take on a commitment, then find you have to take it back because of over scheduling yourself? We've all done this, right! But, these are forms of lying to ourselves, and a sign that we need to be more honest with ourselves about how much time and energy we truly have.
Truth is Fluid
Through all of this, understand that the truth is not a fixed being. What is true for you today, in this moment, may not be true a year from now. Heck, it might not be true 10 minutes from now. You are allowed to change and grow, and with this, your truth will likely change too.
Being fluid, also asks us to see the world in new ways. Just like with our truth, the way we see the world might change from time to time. We might change our political views, see an issue from another point of view, or gain more knowledge that changes our viewpoint. Being truthful with yourself, asks you to update your beliefs and views from time to time.
Throughout our lives, both us and our environment will change. Because of this, we are allowed to change how we see the world, how we see ourselves. Our truth will change with the seasons and as we change. Just like that saying, "The only constant is change."
Exercises for Truthfulness
With all that knowledge in hand, here are the exercises of the week to bring more truthfulness into your life:
- Reflect on your values. Take some time this week to make a list of what your values are. I would recommend making a list of 5-10 values and ranking them in order of most to least important. Once you've done this, ask yourself how you are living each one out in your life. Where are you not being truthful to one, or more, of your values? Understanding your values and how you want to live them out on a daily basis will give you the foundation for making decisions and spending your time according to your truth.
- Practice being honest. Notice when you're the "nice one" rather than being honest. Take stock of these moments and spend some time reflecting on them. Ask yourself what do the moments where you are nice rather than truthful invoke in you. What are you afraid of in speaking the truth? Who's approval are you seeking by being nice?
- Slow down before committing yourself. Before you commit to something, take the time to really ask yourself if you're capable of following through. Do you have the time in your schedule for something else? Do you have the energy to commit to it? Do you even want to do it? Be honest about how much time you have and what you are realistically capable of doing in that time. This leads to the final exercise...
- Say "no" now and again. It's okay to say no. Repeat after me, it's okay to say no! You do not have to say yes to everything that comes your way. You do not have to please those around you. Saying no to some things that are laid in front of you allows you to feel in control of your destiny and really commit to the projects you do say yes to.
That brings us to the end of the second tenant, Satya. Hope you all have an amazing week of living out your truth, and I'll see you back here next week for the third tenant, Asteya.