SATYA – Truthfulness

Satya – the second Yama – translates to “truthfulness” (‘sat’ = true essence or true nature), but it encompasses much more than merely abstaining from lies. It’s about aligning your thoughts, words, and actions with your authentic self and living in harmony with reality.

Sanskrit is a vibrational language and so each word is so much more than a label – it literally holds the very essence of the word. Because of this, ‘sat’ also holds the meanings; ‘unchangeable’, ‘that which has no distortion’, ‘that which is beyond distinctions of time, space and person’, and ‘reality’. Many Sanskrit words use the prefix ‘sat’ such as ‘satsang’ meaning ‘true company’ and ‘sattva’ meaning ‘pure’, which leads us to understand that ‘sat’ really means more than ‘truth’, it’s something that is unchanged and pure.

Being honest with ourselves is the cornerstone of Satya. Often, we’re entangled in identifying solely with fleeting emotions and irrational thoughts; ‘I am a bad person because of this…’ or ‘I’m not good enough because of that…’ These mental fluctuations, or vrittis, cloud our perception of reality. By quieting the mind through Yoga practice, as prescribed in the sutras, we create space to discern truth from emotional turbulence. This practice enables us to transcend instant reactions driven by fear and conditioning, fostering a clearer, more truthful perspective. Once we know we are not our thoughts, there’s a little sigh of relief as a bigger gap is created between who we think we are sometimes, and who we really are.

To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.


This Yoga sutra suggests that steadfast commitment to truthfulness aligns actions and their outcomes, transcending fear and ignorance. Honest introspection liberates us from the grip of the ego, revealing a truer sense of self.

While honesty is paramount, compassionate communication is equally vital. The sutras advise restraint if honesty risks harm. Indian philosophy embraces contextuality, advocating kindness over righteousness when necessary. So if the situation calls for it, remember the saying ‘sometimes it is better to be kind than to be right’. Observing the motives behind our actions – ‘will it truly serve the other person, or am I doing this because of a need to prove something or gain something?’ – is a useful tool to help us apply both Satya and Ahimsa to our situations.

The Asato ma mantra from the Upanishads serves as a daily reminder of the journey from falsehood to truth :

Asato ma Sad-gamaya
Tamaso ma Jyotir-gamaya
Mrityor ma Amritan-gamaya
Aum Shanti Shanti Shantihi

From untruth to truth
From darkness (ignorance) to light (enlightenment)
From mortality to immortality
May I be led
Aum peace, peace, peace

Our thoughts, emotions and moods are transient, yet these are the things that shape our subjective truths and our whole life experience. By acknowledging the unchangeable nature of ‘sat’, we learn to detach from transient thoughts, fostering peace and stillness within.

Practical ways to practice Satya

  • Each situation offers the opportunity to perceive truth if you are open to it. A daily practice of slowing down, taking a couple of deep breaths, observing things as they really are, and detaching from irrational thoughts can help you move closer towards inner peace and stillness.
  • Cultivate mindfulness to observe your thoughts without judgment, seeing them as passing clouds rather than absolute truths. Remember, thoughts are transient – they come and go. You are not your thoughts, your are not your mind.
  • Be honest with yourself about your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Self-awareness is the foundation of living truthfully.
  • Speak truthfully in all your interactions, choosing sincerity over exaggeration or deceit. Honest communication builds trust and credibility, essential for success in any endeavor. It also helps to resolve conflicts and address challenges more effectively, leading to better outcomes for the organization.
  • Speak truthfully with compassion, kindness, and intention. Honesty doesn’t have to be brutal. According to a Sufi saying, you should allow your words to pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
  • Become aware of your internal dialogue and challenge negative self-talk. Replace it with affirmations that align with your true self.
  • Practice active listening without interrupting or imposing your judgments. Seek to understand others’ perspectives and respond honestly and respectfully, even if it means expressing disagreement or delivering difficult truths. Empathizing with different perspectives fosters more creative solutions through diverse viewpoints.
  • Align your thoughts, words, and actions with your core values, creating a strong inner compass to guide your choices. Live in congruence with your values.
  • Be true to your promises and commitments, building trust with yourself and others. Integrity breeds respect and fosters strong relationships, crucial for success in personal and professional life.
  • Reflect on your true purpose and identify barriers preventing you from living authentically. Express your authentic feelings and opinions, even when it feels uncomfortable – your voice matters.
  • Cultivate openness and transparency in relationships, avoiding hidden agendas or manipulative tactics. Transparency fosters trust and collaboration, leading to better outcomes.
  • Embrace humility by admitting when you’re wrong or have made a mistake. Take responsibility for your actions and their consequences. Use setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning. Honesty about your shortcomings builds resilience and fosters continuous improvement.
  • Refrain from spreading rumors or engaging in gossip about others. Respect the privacy and dignity of individuals by refraining from sharing unverified information or engaging in idle chatter. Focus on constructive communication that uplifts and inspires.
  • Be authentic and genuine in your relationships. Avoid pretense or false appearances. Show up as your true self, allowing others to see and accept you for who you are. Authentic connections foster deeper bonds and mutual respect, essential for success in personal and professional endeavors.
  • When faced with ethical dilemmas, prioritize truthfulness and integrity in your decision-making process. Choose the path that aligns with your values and principles, even if it entails personal sacrifice or challenges.
  • Demonstrate honesty and integrity in your leadership role, setting the tone for organizational culture and fostering trust among team members. Lead by example and inspire others to uphold the values of truthfulness and transparency. This transparency fosters a culture of integrity and accountability where individuals take responsibility for their actions and decisions. In a culture of integrity, ethical behavior is valued and rewarded, fostering a work environment where individuals feel empowered to speak up and do the right thing. Leaders who are honest and truthful in their communications create an environment where information is openly shared.

By embracing Satya in these practical ways, you cultivate a reputation for honesty, integrity, and authenticity. This foundation of trust and credibility contributes to unlocking your full potential as a conscious leader and entrepreneur. Leaders and entrepreneurs who prioritize truthfulness in their actions and communications create a positive work environment, build strong relationships with stakeholders, and make ethical decisions that benefit both their organizations and society as a whole.

Yoga takes you into the present moment, the only place where life exists.