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Maitri musings: find your truth

  • Jan 14, 2019

Satya is translated as truthfulness. In the Christian tradition of our country, this would equate to not lying, or not bearing false witness. As for non-violence (ahimsa), there is a wider context for honesty that we can apply across our lives on and off the mat.

We’re taught not to lie out loud in speech or behaviour from a young age, but we’re often quite capable of lying to ourselves. It’s quite incredible how we can pull the wool over our own eyes! When we’re not paying attention, our brain conspires to those lies too. Our brains can lay down false memories, people keeping food diaries ‘honestly’ forget to write down secret eating, and we skip events or behaviours that don’t fit the way we want to see the world. [Try this article for an overview of false memory syndrome].

Yoga training and mindfulness help us to penetrate this dull brain. We must learn to cast a cool, penetrating light over our actions, performing asanas each time with a fresh mind and reapplication of effort and determination:

This is where the fire of practice (tapas) ignites the lamp of intelligence, and self-knowledge (svadhyaya) dawns.

We should not use the truth as a club to beat others. We need to live our truth, tempered by the first yama of ahimsa. So in some cases in our dealings with others, we learn that language must be managed, or indeed that we need to refrain from speech or actions which, no matter if truthful, will cause harm.

Finally, and I write this with a heartfelt appreciation of my own limitations and experiences over the years, BKS Iyengar reminds us that we cannot punch above our weight with moralities:

If I pretend to a morality that is higher or greater than I am in fact myself capable of, then I am posing; I am acting hypocritically. So at each stage of our lives, we do our best with yamas, the external moralitieis, but it is only through refining the self that we really improve the quality of this morality.

Yours in endeavour, Claire

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