Yoga is broken into eight limbs and we are unpacking them carefully. The first limb is called the Yamas, are they are a list of general ways to behave. Ahimsa is the first and loosely means non-harming, non-aggression, and general compassion toward others and yourself; everything is built on this foundation of kindness.
Satya is the second and is the Honest Abe Yama: truthfulness in ones thought, speech, and actions. Getting a reputation as a liar is definitely not a way to make and keep friends, is not going to win any points with teachers or your parents, is overall exhausting, and can land you in big trouble. But then telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth may not always be the best idea either if we try to live compassionately among others. This seems not so black and white, but all sorts of gray, and I like real-life scenarios, so here we go.
Your opinion is a truth but needn’t always be shared. If your friend got a new haircut and she really is pleased with it, but you personally liked the way she wore it before there is no need to share that truth with her. It is your truth, your opinion, so only you will feel better for the sharing of it. Therefore, it is best to keep it to yourself, unless specifically asked. I can think of other cases where you have every right to have an opinion and share it respectfully. The world is constantly evolving and right now there are social and political shifts occurring. These changes are all going to be fueled by new thoughts and will bring about more discussions, sharing of ideas, and hopefully lots of listening. Remember that sharing your truth also requires that you hear the truth of others as well.
When you are asked for your thoughts and opinions and input, please, please share them! If your parents are asking what’s on your mind; tell them. Speaking your thoughts, worries, concerns, and fears with someone who has been through life can be really helpful. I understand that most people age 12-19 may not feel comfortable talking to the adults in their lives, but the more you practice, the easier it will become. If there is something that is weighing on you and you’re not able to speak it out loud, journaling is a great way to speak your truth without fear of judgement, criticism, or persecution.
A third aspect of Satya is lying to ourselves and we do that most often. Sometimes we kind of know we are doing it: professional procrastinator here – I can come up with LOADS of lies that may sound familiar.
*I’m too busy* *I would, but I can’t* *That’s really hard* *I’ll start Monday*
Sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing it. We may find a new group of friends at school and suddenly discover we are wearing our clothes differently, have taken on new hair or make-up styles, and may be acting or speaking in a new, unfamiliar manner. These may not be “lies” by the Webster Definition, but stopping an activity, losing interest in friends, or reinventing yourself is absolutely living a lie if the intention isn’t pure. If we are trying to act in a way to gain the approval of others, we can be cautioned that the relationships will never be solid as it was built on a foundation of deception. The ability to tell little white lies to impress can easily be inflated to larger fabrications as we have to keep up the charade. This disconnect from the truth is dangerous and can lead you down many negative paths.
By nature people change throughout their lives, and part of growing up is learning to navigate through these transitional teenage times. Nobody expects you to stick to one type of clothing or hair style or to play with your American Girls Doll forever, but we do want you to find your authentic self and be true to who you are. There is just one YOU inside and it takes a whole life of experiences to polish that beautiful gem. If you discover that you have been changing into someone you don’t really recognize or feel uncomfortable being, look to those who know you best and whom your trust to help guide you back to find your true north.
Truthfulness, to review, is much more complicated than “don’t tell lies.” We know that there is a benevolent truth, when sometimes silence is more kind than the truth. We understand that our voices and opinions do need to be heard and as much as we speak, we also should listen. We know we change as we move through life, but as long as our moral compass always points toward our true self, we know we are on the right track. If we ever feel a little disjointed, stifled, or tempted to tell tales, sit down quietly and close your eyes. With an inhale think the word Sat and with an exhale think Nam. Sat Nam means I am that or I am truth. Sit and breathe for about 5 minutes with these words; sat…..nam….. Picture a beautiful light coming from your core, your center. Envision this ball of golden energy continue to brighten and grow as you find comfort in spending a little truthful time with your TRUE self.