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June 18, 2018

When it Comes to Suicide, Satya can Save Us.

The suicides of both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have weighed heavy on me—they hurt my heart and shoulders. 

 The lives of the 123 people who are lost to suicide each day also hurts my heart.

And the 3,000 people who attempt it, and for whatever reason, live on…well, that hurts me too.

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, one of the biggest ways that we can help prevent suicide is by removing the stigma and sharing our own stories and dark moments. Because it’s easy to compare and think “other people” have easy, carefree lives. 

But most of us are carrying a suitcase of stories that would break your heart, if you heard them.

We just carry them quietly. 

Satya (truth, or the ideal of being truthful in our words and actions) is one of the yamas in the Yoga Sutras that we yogis can look to as a way to be of service in this national suicide crisis. 

Our satya can save. 

Satya means that we speak things as they are, not how we want them to be—photoshopped and filtered. Truth—greasy hair and dark under-eye-circled truth.

Satya means that we ask the truthful, painful questions, which means having the courage to ask someone, “Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”

I choose to live in the light, and let that light shine bright enough to illuminate my own darkness as well. I want my personal satya to be a flashlight. A lighthouse shining when the high tide of fear and doubt have become impossible to navigate, and you wonder if tonight is the night you drown. 

No, not tonight.

I want to be a mirror, to reflect light, love, and rainbow prisms into dark corners—the ones we all have. Yes, all of us.

The corners and angles with cobwebs and locked doors and broken windows. Attics and basements of our souls. 

The closets with a burned-out bare bulb on the ceiling and a broken drawstring switch. 

The closets full of ghosts. The yellowed paper love notes, corrugated cardboard with aged packing tape, peeling in the attic heat. 

We all have them—rooms, thoughts, and darkness we padlock away. 

The problem is not that these thoughts exist; it is pretending that they don’t. 

When we close off this truth, this satya, or when we don’t share our pain honestly because of shame or stigma, we close ourselves off to the love and compassion that are so available to us when we ask. 

It’s waiting for you. It’s ready for you to ask, to let yourself be seen. 

Imagine if we all did a spring cleaning, or at least turned on the basement light.

If we showed our clutter and broken thoughts. 

Asked honest questions. 

Gave honest answers, instead of, “I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”

How many people would see that they were never alone? 

Anxiety, depression, and postpartum depression made me question whether I belonged here anymore. My soul felt ready to go home—not because I am selfish or because I wanted to leave my friends and family, but because I believed the lies that the loud chemicals in my brain were whispering softly in my ears. 

I don’t share this for pity or attention or a pat on the back. I questioned whether to share it at all. But if even one person reads this and feels a little less alone, it’s worth it. 

If you see me, truly see me. 

Know that your darkest thoughts about yourself are false. 

Know that I have them, too. 

Life is not always magic. Yoga is not all love and light. It’s scar tissue, tired bones, and weary muscles. Tears and sweat. Skin that accommodates to grow tiny humans and then bring them into this world. Hearts hammered open by pain that somehow keep beating—a tired drum that won’t quit.

It’s healing and it’s hurting. It’s holding tight to your inhale and riding out your exhale. Swallow. Feel the lump in your throat. Breathe in again. Send the air away again. Tell your lungs to repeat. 

It’s the practice of coming back to the yamas, the yogic guidelines that can help us find a path to peace, even in the midst of chaos. 

It’s the simple but important practice of satya.

I encourage you to speak your satya more. Let’s remove the stigma and shame of sadness and desperation, and let our hearts light and lead the way for others. It’s part of being human, and it’s nothing to hide. 

Let your satya be your light, whether in a lighthouse or a basement. A burning sun, or even a flickering candle that you pray will not burn out.

The light you shine over a cup of coffee or late night glass of cheap wine that you know will hurt your head tomorrow. 

Let it be you, and your truth, and pain, and light, and your sweet humanity. 

Satya saves—don’t hide it. 


Relephant: 5 Mindful Things to do each Morning.


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