Satya: Liberating Truth
In May Satya will accompany us as our Focus of the Month. Satya freely translates to “truthfulness” or “liberating truth”.
Interlacing the concept of Satya in our Yoga practice inspires us to take a look inside for what feels true and authentic to ourselves. Satya is one of the 5 “Yamas'' from the ancient scriptures of the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. The Yamas are concepts for the “yogi way” of living in social interaction. Even though the Yamas describe approaches on how to deal with others, they also ask for the same engagement towards oneself. With the practice of Yoga we can become the witness of our beliefs and thought patterns, observe how they change over time and see how external triggers may influence our own perceived truths.
In a world dominated by news headlines, opinion makers and buzzwords it is often difficult to know what is of value for us and we may accumulate strong opinions about what we see and hear in the external world. Such strong beliefs of what is true and what is false can distance us from the world around us. We then tend to divide the world in binary patterns between good and bad, right or wrong and limit our own potential within those categories. By finding truthfulness with ourselves, we liberate ourselves from the illusion of a binary world.
Having cultivated the awareness of your own truth, the path for connecting what you find inside of you with the outside world has been paved. The essence of Satya is like a fertile ground on which interaction, connection and community may grow. Expressing one’s truth in the spirit of Satya has the idea of speaking with purpose and intention and can also be interpreted as being impeccable with your words. This concept clearly distances itself from recklessly sharing all our thoughts in ways that might possibly be diminishing.
Satya is about expressing your unique truth and at the same time giving those around you the space to do the same. It’s about following your purpose (dharma) and allowing others to do it as well.
Just like on a treasure hunt, you can only go on the quest once you find the map. The key to finding this map, that shows us the way towards an authentic life, is being honest and truthful with oneself. By practicing Satya we practice finding the eternal truth - which is oneness and all separation is just an illusion.
From Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: “When one is firmly established in speaking truth, the fruits of action become subservient to him.”
“It is better to follow your path and fail, than to try to reach for someone else's life. It is through the stumbling and failing that we learn and grow.” - Bhagavad Gita
From Paulo Ceolho’s “Veronica decides to die”: “Is wanting to be different a serious illness? - it is if you force yourself to be the same as everyone else. [...] It’s a distortion of nature, it goes against God’s laws, for in all the world’s woods and forests, he did not create a single leaf the same as another.”
SATYA ON THE MAT
Finding liberation in your Yoga practice can start with the energy you step onto your mat. Being honest with your physical and emotional constitution on this day can be surprisingly liberating and takes the pressure out of having to achieve a certain level of what we think we should be able to do. As humans we are in constant change and what might have felt easy last week, may not be achievable this time and that’s ok. Satya invites us to listen to what’s inside of us and make it our own practice.
The concept of truthfulness can be connected to the throat chakra. In order to activate it, practices like Ujjayi breath, also known as the oceanic breath may help. The sound and feel of Ujjayi is achieved by using the same breath as you would to breathe on a mirror you would like to clean, just with your mouth closed. It adds consistency to the practice by giving us a steady rhythm.
As we are approaching summer, the cooling breath of Sitali can also be a great way to keep your head light and clear. For Sitali you also breathe in and out through your mouth, while having your tongue either rolled up on the sides like a straw, or if this is inaccessible to you, you can also try lightly clenching your teeth on top of another and gently putting your tongue on the backside of your upper teeth. Breathing in and out through your mouth in this position, you may quickly feel a cooling effect.
The Mantra Sat Nam can be translated to “Truth is my name” or “The essence is within me”. It is an acknowledgement of bringing the Infinite eternal Truth into our three-dimensional world. It’s an expression of the divine within you.
"Watering the seeds of truth through your practice"
Pronouncing SAT NAM is like watering the seeds of truth in our consciousness and encouraging us to wake up to the truth of who we really are, our divine identity. Just like a tree needs time to grow and get its roots firmly into the ground, with our stubborn minds most of us need consistent practice of a mantra to let its effects take root in our mind. (https://kundaliniyogaschool.org/2018/05/12/sat-nam-truth-is-my-name/)
The Sat Nam mantra can be practiced in meditation gently forming the words “Sat” on the Inhale and “Nam” with every exhale. Letting the intention of truthfulness ripple deeper into our consciousness.
The perfect Mudra for enhancing truthfulness and clarity is Kali Mudra. Formed with your fingers clenched together, as if holding a sword with both hands, only the index fingers are kept straight and pointed forward, Kali Mudra is said to be the sword of truth that slays illusion.
The Mudra or finger position is named after the Goddess Kali, who is not only the goddess of destruction but also the goddess of renewal, as she destroys all evil. Nowadays Kali is often related to energies like anger which don’t hold a very high reputation in our society and like to be avoided. Kali invites us to truthfully allow any emotion to come to the surface and flow with the liberating forces of doing so.
Any asanas that promote concentration are great ways to invite Satya into your practice:
The balancing and twisting elements of Eagle Pose are a great option to embody the concepts of integration and expansion with the release of the pose.
Asanas that allow us to integrate Kali Mudra: Crescent Lunge; Virabhadrasana A & C; Pyramid; Headstand; Plank Pose; Dolphin Pose
Asanas that allow us to turn inward & witness ourselves:
Forward bends, Paschimottanasana, Hastasana, Balasana,
Malasana: Yogi Squat with the variation of letting gravity pull the weight of your hands on the back of your head towards the ground (no pulling) moving the chin closer to the chest.
Setting the Jalandhara bandha or throat lock to integrate and activate the Vishudda Chakra. This can be achieved by tilting your chin slightly closer to your chest and lengthening your spine.
Truthfulness is closely related to the intuitive clarity of our Third Eye Chakra and the inner wisdom held by our Crown Chakra.
RESTING IN AWARENESS
A good way to practice truthfulness and enhance clarity can be to get rid of any unnecessary distractions. A simple meditation practice with resting in awareness, simply observing the breath flow in and out quietly through the nostrils , can be a great option.
Stimulating the energies of our Third Eye chakra, bringing clarity and intention to our consciousness, another great way to invite Satya into the meditation practice is by visualizing a beam of light radiating from the spot between your eyebrows. With every inhale the light radiates a little further, with every exhale rest in awareness and bathe in the glow of this light.
A similar practice, stimulating the inner wisdom that the Crown Chakra holds, would be to imagine this golden stream of light coming from above and pouring down through the crown of your head down the whole body.
Integration in everyday life
SATYA OFF THE MAT:
Being impeccable with your words and finding constructive criticism and ways of expressing one’s own truth helps to avoid conflicts, for example in a workplace environment.
Living intentionally: speaking only what is true to you and what you will make true. Instead of “trying”, decide with your word that you will call it into reality.
Cultivating self awareness by getting to know yourself and your truth:
Journaling prompts may include:
What energized me today?
What depleted me today?
What am I proud of?
Is there anything left unsaid?
What would I do differently next time?
Working with herbs like peppermint in your tea or as an essential in a diffuser promoting clarity *these are natural remedies, so be mindful about where it’s coming from*
The 4 Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
Patanjalis Yoga Sutra, Der Königsweg zu einem weisen Leben - Ralph Skuban
Veronica Decides To Die - Paulo Coelho