Living an Authentic Life: Satya
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day.
It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest.
The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think
You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
The second of the Yamas in the eight limbs of yoga is satya or truthfulness. This concept appears very straightforward. Tell the truth. Don’t lie. While those things are basic tenets of this Yama, satya goes deeper than the initial meaning of truth telling.
Satya and ahimsa (non-harming) are bound together inextricably and are directly related. One cannot live a lie and consider it non-harming, nor can someone live a life of hurtful behavior and call it truthful. The two go hand-in-hand.
Truthfulness, like kindness, begins within each of us. Being honest with ourselves about who we are and what we desire is essential to living a life of satya. Living authentically simply means being who we are without fear of approval or need for belonging. Sometimes that means going against the popular opinion to do something that is important to us, despite a lack of support. Making “the choice to let our true selves be seen” (Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection) requires a love for one’s self, a genuine kindness.
Deborah Adele says “…when we choose the safety of belonging over the inner need to
grow we also dull ourselves” (The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice). Belonging to a group makes us feel accepted and secure. Being a part of the group can lead group members to become more and more alike, and less and less like the individuals they once were. The group itself is not at fault, but the security of fitting in and belonging tends to take over.
When we stand on our own, we risk feeling vulnerable. Voicing our independent ideas can leave us alone and at risk for disapproval. It is precisely this vulnerability that allows us to grow into who we were meant to be. It is the freedom from the expectations of the group that allows us to explore our own likes and dislikes, interests and passions, our inner truth.
Accepting our own imperfections is both an act of kindness and truthfulness. The truth of our flawed selves can be difficult to bear. But, the truth remains that we are all going to make mistakes and fall down. Living authentically is not easy. Accepting our imperfect selves, standing on our own to do what is in our hearts to do, or becoming vulnerable by being ourselves are all means for living the truth.