Exploring Satya

The first time I seriously explored Satya was a couple of years after my Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training. I was living at Kripalu, and I wanted the senior yoga teachers to like me.  When we would all be talking about yoga, I exaggerated my experience and pretended to know things I didn’t know.  I said I practiced longer than I really practiced, read books I didn’t read, that kind of thing.  I didn’t tell bold face lies; I alluded, hinted at or implied.  It took a long time for me to see what I was doing, even though I was practicing Satya.  This kind of lying is a defense, and I’m sure it started long before I came to Kripalu.

When I clearly saw myself engaging in this behavior it, my first reaction was to deny it. In other words, lie to myself. I told myself its no big deal, and it doesn’t matter because no one knows.  Secrecy was a sort of absolution. Deep down I knew this wasn’t the case. I could feel it in my body- my chest and belly would tighten when I would exaggerate or make a false claim.  I ignored these feelings as long as I could.

But the wonderful thing was, I kept practicing. I did asana, pranayama and I kept meditating on Satya.  I’d inquire-what does telling the truth telling really mean?  What does honesty look like?  And as I continued to practice, it became much more difficult to ignore what was happening. The cat was out of the bag, so to speak. As uncomfortable as it was, I needed to face this part of myself.

At first, I couldn’t get past feeling guilty.  I went from puffing myself up, to dragging myself very far down.  Both sides of this coin were lies. 

Although my behavior needed to change, when I began to peel back the layers of my tendency to exaggerate, that behavior wasn’t the heart of the matter. What was at stake was getting real about my feelings of insecurity and not good enoughness.  That was the honest conversation I needed to have with myself. I was afraid I wouldn’t measure up, that I didn’t belong.  These were feelings I had been carrying around for a long, long time. I needed to look myself square in the face and own this piece of my humanity.  I needed to be vulnerable with myself, and acknowledge that I felt bad about who I was.

It wasn’t easy. But when I accepted that these feelings were really happening, something deep in my being softened.  I felt connected.  I felt whole. 

My feelings of inadequacy hadn’t changed quite yet, but they mattered less. Healing had begun.  I had melted a barrier that I held within myself. That’s what lying does; it creates false walls that keep our inner landscapes fragmented. Deep honesty liberates.  Now my relationships with others could have a different tone.  I was equal in Being.

Sayta comes from the root word as, which means, “to be”. I find that comforting. Truth just is. Through the practice, it always finds us.

Cristie Newhart