How the truth can set you free on your journey of healing a harmful relationship with food
As we entered in 2021, I invited everyone in our tribe Yoga for Transforming Your Relationship with Food to explore the concept of Santosha (contentment) with me, and start uncovering how this yama (ethical observance as outlined in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali) can be applied to cultivate greater self-compassion and compassion for those around you. Santosha is a gateway to letting go of perfectionism and finding a sense of peace right where you are.
But sometimes no matter how hard you try, contentment feels far away. The discontent is too overwhelming. When we feel discontent, there is a desire for something else. So there is an inherent expectation that we believe what we have currently is not enough. Part of this comes from the psychology of envy – having so much choice in human life means we live in a constant state of anxiety – “I am doing this right”, “do I look right”, "is this the best diet". So we keep changing ourselves, fighting against our own truth in an attempt to fulfil the expectations of society. I experienced a radical shift on my own journey to finding acceptance in my body when I stopped chasing content, but instead focused on getting clear on my TRUTH. When there is firm grounding in our perception of the truth - we are much less likely to feel swayed and insecure about ourselves, and less inclined to become overwhelmed by the feeling of discontent. This brings us into another Yama within the practice of yoga – Satya – meaning universal truth.
When we are talking about Satya – truthfulness - refraining from lying – that’s one level, but beyond this - the path of yoga aims to bring practioners into the highest form of truth – beyond the personal, to experience the Satya - truth of the universe. These are the laws that govern the operation of the universe and everything within it. Satya includes actions and speech – more than just telling lies.
It’s a principle of truthfulness that brings you into alignment with the greater good. Focusing on this truth will lead to the unveiling of layers to go beyond the attachment we hold to the annamaya kosha – the physical body and food layer of our being.
The yoga sutra 2.36 states
Sutra 2.36: satya pratisthayam kriya phala ashrayatvam
This more or less translates to "when you are firmly established in truth, the fruits of your actions will stand the test of time."
This tells us that Satya is the difference between what is permanent and what is impermanent.
According to yoga philosophy, and from my own experience of healing this harmful relationship I had with my body and with food, so much suffering happens because of this conflation between what is permanent and what is impermanent.
Just think about how the desire of certain physical attributes, food trends, are always coming and going – even the physical body is impermanent as we age. So if we follow these trends and become too attached to physicality, instead of listening inward for our own truth – it will continue to cause discontent and suffering. None of these things are grounded in universal truth.
If we are able to view our bodies and food this way, it becomes clear that food is simply food, a body is simply a body. With this truth, we can move into a place of neutrality and not feel swayed by discontent. The truth is permanent. Yoga seeks to help you understand what is true and what is untrue.
The opposite of satya is falsehood or delusion – these things will bring you further away from being in alignment with the universal truth. In the context of talking about something like a negative body image or a belief we hold about a certain food being “bad” or another one being “good” – this is purely delusion based on a personal beliefs that leads us to assign a
moral value to food or a certain body type that quite simply is a falsehood - the opposite of Satya.
I encourage every yoga practitioner of yoga to look at what Satya means for you individually. Once you are able to speak your own truth, living in alignment with Satya – content will become available automatically. If you find it hard to feel contentment – you can instead just listen for your own truth. My personal mantra that came to me in this search for truth was "I am always enough, for I am one with the universe, and the universe is within me".
Listen for the moments of discontent and notice the impermanence of their nature, grounded in the knowledge that those are only temporary moments of delusions that you have the choice to reject.
I’m currently offering the worksheet to practicing contentment that are made exclusively for the Path to Body Liberation Program that I’m sending out as a gift for anyone else who would like to get a bit more clear on their truth and what contentment means to them. Just let me know if you want it and I will send it to you.
Sending you all much love.
May you be healthy,
May you be happy,
May you be at ease,
Yoga & Meditation Teacher
Founder of the Path to Body Liberation Program