Satya – how to be truthful when there is more than one truth

I had one of those realizations yesterday that stops you in your tracks, snatches your breath, and causes your eyes to widen like saucers. I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, biking home from a class that I teach in the mission area of Kelowna by Sarson’s Beach. It takes me roughly a half hour to bike out there, and then I teach for three hours (two classes back to back) and then set out on another half hour ride home. I was trying to decide if it was worth my time, if I’ll be able to survive financially if I resigned from teaching the class, and what the alternatives to teaching this class would be (more hours as a wine shop sales girl, dealing with the tipsy and oftentimes aggravating public? Do I hope for more classes at the hot studio? Can I physically manage to spend even more time in the 90-degree room? Should I just learn to tighten my belt and not eat out so often? Am I forgetting that teaching yoga is a privilege and should be done selflessly, and not as a means to an end, a way to make money? Am I a terrible person?) In short, my mind was saturated with worries – vrittis – if you will. Vrittis are the electrical currents, the storms, of our ego mind. Yoga is the intentional calming and stilling of said storms. I can hear Nikki Doane reciting the mantra “yogas citta vritti nirodhaha” – have I learned nothing? Why am I letting my mind get the better of me?

I was also feeling blue about having recently broken up with my boyfriend. It wasn’t an easy decision, and frankly, I suck at breaking up with people. I don’t like inflicting pain of any kind, especially emotional pain. I loved him, and felt a genuine and special connection between us. But just as my heart is no longer into teaching the class in the mission, my heart was no longer in the relationship. Or, rather, I should say my heart was still in it (silly heart!) but deep down in the belly of my consciousness I knew that something was wrong. It manifested as fitful sleeps, private outbursts of tears, and a general sense of malaise that comes from not living my truth. I could have used a million excuses and talked myself in circles into staying with him (he’s an amazing cook! He is wildly handsome! He does yoga! He pays you the nicest compliments! You’re not going to do much better than this!), but in the end it had to be done, otherwise I wouldn’t be acting in earnest with him or myself. The thing is, I hate letting people down. I hate feeling like someone trusts me or depends on me and I drop the ball.

What I’m slowing beginning to learn, however, is that we are doing others a disservice by not adhering to our truth. I would be cheating my students if I didn’t believe 100% that I am supposed to be teaching that class, just as I would be deceiving my ex by pretending I am happy and everything is OK. Truth is a tricky subject sometimes, and has to be carefully felt out. I say “felt” rather than “thought” out, because so often our bodies and our subconscious are far wiser than our confused, ego-encrusted mind. I try to live with truth – with Satya – but what do we do when there is more than one truth, or when our decisions are not clear? Sometimes finding our true North can be a painful process; We can’t always easily discern right from wrong, or what will serve the best interests of ourselves and others. For me, it’s usually the choices involving people I care about that I lose sleep over. Making a difficult decision reminds me of one of those sticky summer days when everything is lukewarm, and you search hopelessly for relief from the stagnating heat. And when night comes, the heat is not relieved by darkness. The temperature hovers over the city like a warm blanket, stifling any hope of slumber. You lay awake, tossing and turning in bed, as the muggy, warm breeze seeps through the window. There’s nowhere to escape. When a difficult decision presents itself, reducing dissonance in our mind can be like trying to find relief from a permeating, midsummer heat. At times, to be true to a loved one, we inevitably have to hurt them. This is the most painful thing I can possibly conjure. There is no way to be 100% right and emerge from the situation unscathed. Yet there is an ache, something deep down in our heart of hearts that is telling us that something has to change. We must aim to align ourselves with the universal truth – the one that will ring true in our hearts, ultimately creating a harmony with all things. So hurt we must.

Then I had my realization.

I am not the first one who has struggled with this. I am not the first person who has felt the stab of a broken heart, grappled with feeling inadequate, or felt the guilt of insincerity. Human suffering is a breathtakingly universal experience. We are bound together in our understanding of life – the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows. Even though we see with different eyes and interpret through different psyches, there is no denying how utterly alike we are.

Suddenly, on my bike, as the wind played with a strand of my hair and the golden sunlight faded on the horizon, I was flooded with an overwhelming sense of connection to all living things. I ached for all the heartbreaks, all the sorrows, and all the disappointments that ever stung a hopeful heart. I truly believe that all beings are intrinsically good, and it is only fear that clouds and twists our good intentions. I realized that all of my troubles stemmed from fear: fear of not having enough, fear of what someone will think of me if I break their heart, and fear that I am not a worthy person. Thus, I recognize that I must choose to live from a place of love, trust my intuition, and move forward courageously, knowing I am not alone. Even the most shameful and debasing things I feel I’ve committed in my life have been done before, and likely the same reactions have been felt in their aftermath. If I was looking objectively at another person experiencing these emotions, wouldn’t I long for them to forgive themselves? Why can I not have the same compassion for myself?

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” ~John Lennon

I suppose in the end it all boils down to forgiveness. Can we forgive each other, choosing to see our sameness over our differences? And can we absolve ourselves for causing harm in order to create resonance with the truth in our deepest heart of hearts? All we can do is set our intention, resolve to be truthful, and learn to let go.

Just as the light in me sees and honors the light in you – as well I see and accept the darkness and the pain. In both extremes, we are one. Namaste.

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