The Exeter yoga community

Satya - truthfullness


Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. As a former journalist and current PR consultant, that’s the not-quite-a-joke slogan that has coloured my working life. But what exactly is this thing called the truth?

Interestingly, PR and yoga have a great synchronicity here (probably the only time those words will ever emerge from my mouth).

Writing a press release involves choosing a fact and then giving it a particular ‘spin’. For example, talking about a new service that a client is offering for the first time…..in Exeter. No need to mention the service is available elsewhere around Devon, it’s still true and grabs the journalist’s interest.

Yoga too teaches you that there are facts, and then there is the mental and verbal spin that you put on them – with negatives results. Uncontrollable ‘citta vritti’ is the source of much unnecessary mental anguish – we have all experienced instances of worrying about something that hasn’t actually turned out to be true, just a product of our fevered imaginations. Afterwards, amidst the relief, we privately feel a little sheepish about having fretted so much about nothing.

And while it goes without saying that adhering to Satya always means speaking the truth, there is an issue of ‘spin’ to be considered here as well. Baldly stating that your girlfriend actually does look dreadful in her new dress is unlikely to progress you very far along the spiritual path. At all times, one must balance Satya with Ahimsa (kindness). Indeed some commentaries on the Sutras go as far as to say if speaking the truth is unpleasant to others then it is better to say nothing at all.

Calm your mind and hold your tongue. Spare yourself those minutes, days and even months of worry by staying within the moment and sitting quietly with the bare facts. And be grateful that your prudence avoided causing hurt to another, even you feel uneasy at having to hold back.

Of course the only truth that matters ultimately is that we are all connected to each other and that our true selves are pure love. Everything else is an illusion.

That’s fairly hard to hang on to if you’ve just heard that your boyfriend was seen out with another girl, or there are rumours that your employer is heading for bankruptcy. As ever, it’s important to just breathe. Dipping out of mulling over the past or projecting into the future, spreading gossip or lapsing into exaggeration and just focusing on the breath is the fastest way into the moment. Patanjali even goes as far as to say (2.36) that ‘As truthfulness (satya) is achieved, the fruits of actions naturally result according to the will of the Yogi’. In other words finding and holding your own truth, and passing then that on in your dealings with others, encourages a natural flow of all good things in your direction.

And I don’t think he was putting a spin on it.

Jay Kipling www.jayyoga.org

September 2015
July 2014