Telling your truth comes with big consequences. Yet, as far as I can tell, it has been one of the most effective ways of clearing the path to healing the fractures of my heart.
I was recently offered that when it comes to approaching moments of difficulty with others, that a balance of grace and wisdom is exceedingly helpful skill to cultivate. Otherwise, we either don’t get anything accomplished in the telling of our truth, or we can leave dead bodies in our wake and subsequently, hurt another’s heart.
When I first began this blog, I recognized that the personal would become the public. And yet, it is not my job nor would I be in service of my own spiritual path if I were to be adjusting or constricting myself according to the public persona. What I know is that I need to stay in my own life and speak from my own experience and if I choose, share pieces of a soul that only wants to grow into what it is learning.
I am a yogin. I am a yoga teacher and I am a yoga practitioner. One month ago, one of my teachers told me to move away from yoga. Just as I was embracing the idea of stepping back into what it would be like to begin practicing asana again after my last two surgeries. The suggestion not only puzzled me, it was deeply dismantling to me and most certainly to my ego. After all, at that point, I had already spent five months not practicing any asana because my body was instructing me every step of the way that it could only move 9 millimeters in one direction and 10 millimeters in another. I am exaggerating. But if you knew the full scope, I am exaggerating only about 7 millimeters. What I am actually doing, thank god, is laughing at the truth of it. Ahhhh, the truth of it!
So! What was amazing to me was I had spent five months dissolving my identity with my physical acumen, and once I had the innate feeling that I was ready to investigate that identity, which I “believed” to be a core part of my beingness, someone whom I love and trusted said, “Move away from yoga for a while. Like maybe a year.” It was a suggestion. It wasn’t dogma.
We discussed it. I began to understand the suggestion.
The reason I am using this example is this: when someone offers you the truth of their heart, we don’t often like it. It can upset us terribly. It can knock us on our knees. It can even hurt. Now, I am all for the gates of speech. Let me make it clear here that there was nothing said to me in this example that hurt my feelings. But if it had, I know well enough that it would have been my job to investigate what was operating within me, what was getting triggered in me that “hurt” which was in the way of the listening? Because the way I see it is that we can sit in hurt rather than look at the underlying issue which is the issue most needing our attention. Clear, thoughtful and deep skillful attention.
Another piece is that when you know yourself well, you can listen with skill and with love and then discern whether or not something lines up for you or not. For instance, I recently attended a workshop and when confronted with our character traits, the folks helping me out nailed me with great mastery by naming me a "Paralyzed Sensitive." However, had they said something along the lines like “Jill, you are a criminal mastermind who steals ideas from people and then pawns them off as your own.” First, there would have been no “charge” at all in hearing it because no part of that is true, and second, I wouldn’t have been the least bit upset, because I could look into the eye of the truth inside of myself and stand with clarity knowing how far that is from my own inner landscape.
Instead, what happened by offering me a reflection of myself which was so accurate, I felt the cells in my body running around saying “HOLY CRAAAAAAAAAP, IS THAT THE TRUTH!” I saw and traced the pattern back a good 35 years, I felt love and compassion for myself and I felt gratitude for being told this TRUTH about myself because I WANT to look into that eye and more importantly, I want to HEAL IT!
That’s the point. For me, anyway. I speak the truth because I want to heal. And because I know it will heal me.
Well, no. There’s more. I also speak the truth because I was continually lied to as a child. From every direction. By my parents and by two sets of step-parents. And the list goes on. But what I knew, innately, was that I was being lied to and my mother continually tried to cover my mouth each time I objected to every single lie which I would not tolerate. Because what was happening in that child, was that she wanted what she knew and what she saw to be the congruent. And when the adults in your childhood continually reveal an incongruity between the two, it’s like living inside a funhouse mirror. Not just looking at one.
Presto! Welcome to some 5th Chakra issues, eh? Yes. Which is why becoming friends with grace and wisdom in service of truth-telling is a damn great idea. My teacher had those qualities in balance. Deepak Chopra has them in balance, in my humble opinion. Maya Angelou sure does.
So when I began writing this blog, the same teacher who had suggested (only a month ago) that I move away from yoga, also suggested that I consider writing on a larger scale. I scoffed. The scoff was an old pattern. But what came forth with clarity was that no matter what I write, if on a larger scale, people will object. People will be upset. It’s a given. Even when it is never your intention. It simply is a given.
And here’s the other given as far as I’m concerned: it is my job to do my work to be as clear as I can be. To clean up my life. To clean up my relationships. To do that continually. On a daily basis. To keep everything current. So that love and forgiveness are a constant. Because those are the things I seek and those are the things which require the most muscle groups, the most compassion, the most attention and skill, the most trust in myself, and the most truth telling.
Mother Theresa knew her mission. Do your best anyway. Forgive anyway. Let me do her justice. She deserves it. This is what she said:
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
I think this gets to the essence of what I wish to offer. She offered it so beautifully. I aspire, every day to remember that the journey is my soul’s journey. And what I know to be true is that I have the power to change the trajectory of that journey at any moment I choose.
I am going to choose wisely. And skillfully. And compassionately.
May you each do the same.