Updated: Mar 25, 2022
The second of the five Yamas is Satya or Truthfulness. Being honest with ourselves and others through our words, deeds, and actions. Now this Yama does not give us license to flat out hit people with truth-bombs that we can pass off as us "just being honest." For one thing, we have to remember the first Yama, Ahimsa. Kindness. Secondly, the goal of studying and embodying these Yamas is to improve ourselves and our relationships in the world. There are ways of considering what we say and being truthful while still being kind and considerate.
One way for us to check ourselves before speaking is by asking ourselves a few questions. Is what we have to say true? Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it coming from a good place? Is it the right time to talk about this? If the answer to any of these questions is no, it's best to table what you have to say until all the answers are yes or to reflect on what we need to say and if it's appropriate at all.
I recently read "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz. In this book, Ruiz outlines four Agreements, or ways of being, that when observed will lead to freedom, happiness and a reduction in suffering. The first of the four is 'Be Impeccable With Your Word.' This goes hand in hand with Satya. Be faultless. Be truthful. Be Honest. Think before you speak. Wholeheartedly mean what you say. Imagine never having to walk back a thoughtless comment. Or apologize for something you said in the heat of the moment. Or remember a lie you told. The lack of stress will take years off your life!
While we can put most Satya practice focus on speech, all of the same principals apply to our deeds. Are we standing in our truth? Is what we're doing in alignment with who we are? All the same questions we ask ourselves before we speak and before we act.