The “Yoga Sutras” written by the renowned sage Patanjali describes the eight limbs of yoga, outlining the ways we can all live a yogic life. The eightfold path is called “Ashtanga,” which literally means “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb). These eight steps are guidelines on living a meaningful and purposeful life.
Considered the authoritative text on yoga, the Sutras (translated as “threads”) is a collection of aphorisms. The first Limb is the five Yamas, or ethical rules. The second Limb is the five Niyamas, or virtuous habits, behaviors and observances.
The 2nd Yama is Satya, translated as truthfulness, non-falsehood.
To live a truthful and honest life is part of a well-rounded spiritual practice.
In our modern, rushed lives, we get faced daily with situations that put that practice to the test. We may feel tempted to use a “little white lie” here and there to circumvent a bigger problem or avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Or we may omit something, trying to convince ourselves that omissions are not lies.
Of course, the concept of living truthfully is not only to tell the truth, but to avoid small acts of dishonesty, like keeping the extra change someone gave you by accident or taking something that doesn’t belong to you just because no one is looking.
Small or big lies and omissions, overtime, can corrode any relationship by poking holes in the foundation of trust others have in us, a foundation that’s necessary to build and maintain any relationship.
Have you ever found out someone you trusted had been lying to you? How did that feel? Did that make you question your sense of self-worth? Did that make you think of yourself as naïve and gullible? How did that change how you perceived that person? How did that affect your relationship with them?
We could apply all these questions to ourselves, if we are the ones telling fibs. We can pretty much envision how much hurt we can cause by being dishonest.
But it’s not that simple. Or is it?
This subject can bring a lot of philosophical questions to surface. What is the truth? Aren’t some things just a matter of perception? Well, some things are. Others are plain and simple.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: all change starts with us. Do you lie to yourself out of fear of facing the truth or feeling inadequate?
What about others? Do you find yourself bending the truth for fear of “hurting someone’s feelings,” only to get caught in a web of lies that you can’t seem to get out of? Think of how much more hurt you can cause when the truth is revealed.
Journaling and taking time for reflection is a good way to explore these thoughts and ideas in order to gain clarity, to get to know ourselves better. This brings us to the fourth Niyama, Svadhyaya, which means self study, self reflection, introspection.
Lies can also be false beliefs that were instilled in us throughout life, and we internalized those lies and keep repeating them to ourselves. It’s powerful to face those damaging beliefs and reframe them, switch them for something positive and empowering. For example, growing up you may have been told you were not good at drawing. That got repeated so much that you ended up internalizing it and repeating it to yourself and others. Yet, you may have a passion for it, a persistent feeling that it’s something you should try, but you put that idea aside because “you are not good at it.” It’s always an interesting experience to expose those lies and understand where they come from, in order to start affecting transformation.
If living truthfully is your goal, I highly recommend diving into these concepts with honesty and compassion.
The truth will set you free (John 8:32).
If you would like to learn more about the Yamas and Niyamas, Studio 108 will be offering a series of workshops this Fall, where they will be explained and explored as a journaling experience. Stay tuned.