I like to think of myself as an honest person.
Truthful; forthright; candid. Good words, even words I've received in emails generated by this blog.
Yoga has its own set of ten commandments and honesty ranks right up there near the top. It's the second one. It's that important.
Must we really be told to be honest? Being told what to do is sort of a hot button issue for me. I like telling people what to do just a little too much. I do it for a living: "Trikonasana. Step your right foot forward. Breathe. Feel the sensation of your feet on your mat, and upon the earth's surface. Draw strength from your feet up your legs into the core of your pelvis, to cultivate the strength to stand upon your own two feet, etc."
Telling people what to do is fine. Being told what to do, however--not so much. I don't cotton to it--pretty much ever. My typical responses when I suspect someone is trying to control me are, in this order:
- Hackles up.
- Howling rage.
- Rip off head.
- Eat it.
(Unless you happen to be my spiritual teacher, in which case, please, please--I am begging--can you, in your supreme wisdom, just tell me what to do? Pretty please with stevia on top?)
When I practice asana, I don't take my thighs back in alignment because someone tells me to, or because it's the virtuous thing to do. I do it because it feels good. It's sensuous. I get to have the deep recognition, "Yes Ma'am, that has just got to be good for me."
Telling the truth works the same way. Mostly I'm pretty honest, like I said, but there's a particular part of my life in which I have told some fairly serious lies. Whoppers that started out as self-deceptions and then grew bigger than just me.
Being untrue to myself doesn't feel good. Unwinding the little deceptions, and the big ones, of my own device is terrifying. I mean, it is really, really scary. I am just so frigging smoothly persuasive that I can convince myself that my own lies are true. That is not a good thing.
I can convince myself to maintain the status quo but then I have to live in it. There's a price for that and it is high. Too high.
I am so ridiculously fortunate to have had the good luck to literally stumble into the arms of The Handel Group. They are teaching me how to better recognize, and own, what's true for me. Just last month I whined to my incredible coach, Juliana, who was prodding me on a specific assignment that she'd given me:
"I don't believe you," she kindly challenged.
I was floored. Not only do my students usually not retort that they don't believe me--although it did happen recently--they generally believe me so much that they take notes during class, writing down what I say in dedicated yoga notebooks.
I had no idea how to respond to Juliana. Then I tried to convince her I wasn't lying, so I could remain convinced, but she wouldn't budge.
I have some work cut out for me but telling the truth feels a lot better than telling lies. It's one thing to see honesty in a list of yamas and niyamas. It's a whole other thing to learn how to get really clear on what's true for me, and to insistently live from the authenticity of that truth, no matter what.
It could take some time.
The Handel Group has a Crash Course coming up, and I can not recommend highly enough that you check it out.