Tag Archives: honesty

Full Disclosure

I’ve been thinking a lot about how many of the causes of suffering in my life and in the life of those around me are rooted in communication…what we communicate, how we do it, and where we direct it. It seems that so much of what we convey to others passes through a complex system of filters before it pours out into the space we reserve for communication, but many times, it doesn’t even make it that far. That filtering of information happens when we analyze what we have to share, who we’re sharing it with, and a) what our feelings toward that person are, and b) what that person is dealing with in their daily life. When we have incredibly joyous news to share, we often suppress the degree of that joy if we’re dealing with someone who tends to be pessimistic or sarcastic, and conversely, when we have news that isn’t happy, we tend to keep it to ourselves for fear of imposing on others, afraid that we’ll “bring them down”  once the news or information has been shared.

The second Yama in Patanjali’s 8 Yogic Limbs is Satya, which loosely translates to “truth”. Taken from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Sutra 2.36 states, “For one who increasingly practices honesty or truthfulness in actions, speech, and thoughts, his or her will is naturally fulfilled.” Very often, this sutra is applied to how we interact with others (the Yamas are intended to provide restrictions in how we treat others to live a more balanced, peaceful life), but I firmly believe that if we are not applying these practices to ourselves, we won’t have the necessary tools to apply them to others. “As within, so without” sums this up perfectly. We are also taught that if the truth of our words can potentially hurt someone, we should practice discretion, whereby adhering to the first Yama, Ahimsa. I know that in my own life, growing up dealing with my homosexuality taught me that it was normal to keep secrets and to not impose my troubles on others, and I see that same approach being used by countless people around me, regardless of their sexual orientations, genders, races, and religions. We are so conditioned to buy into the processes of discrimination and categorization that naturally occur in our minds that before we know it, we have become our own censors and end up withholding our own truths.

What I’m trying to get to is this: despite our best intentions in trying to transform who we are, what we experience, and what we have to communicate so that it becomes more palatable for others, we end up doing everyone a disservice. When we keep secrets, when we hold back the truth, we create our own obstacles from letting people know who we are, which in turn prevents us from knowing them. We are ALL guilty of filtering information, of white lies, of bending the truth. What we need to recognize is that in the same way that nothing ever ends up being what we thought it would be, people will most often react to us in ways we never would have anticipated. We create stories in our minds about how events will unfold based on how and if communicate, but ultimately, we need to let go of the illusion that we are writing the script and just surrender to the fact that we know very little in relation to what we think of ourselves, and that the people around us, those that we love and who love us, WANT to know the truth. Whether it be good, bad or horrific, those in our inner circles want to be included in everything that happens in our lives, because being privy to it differentiates them from everyone else. It allows them to step up and be our friends, our confidants, the shoulders to cry on and the cheerleaders to cheer us on. It gives them access to us, the same way we’d want access to them.

So this is my challenge to you: what have you not been honest about? And to whom? What information needs to be conveyed in order for you to feel free and light and liberated? Everyone’s got something…this is your cue to do some real spiritual work. Forget about the left-brain chatter that is feeding you stories about what the possible repercussions may be of full disclosure. Silence it….and start talking. It will make all the difference.

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Truth or Dare

So things are changing at Centre Luna Yoga where I spend half of every week, as some of you already know. My extended family (and the founders of the studio) Jenn & Jason have welcomed their beautiful little boy into their family, and are both nesting with the little guy as I take the helm at Luna. Massive change for me, as my admin days there have always been shared with Jenn, laughing our way through each day as we get all that the studio needs to get done completed. My nearly sold-out Santorini Yoga Retreat is less than three weeks away, and I’m teaching more than ever. With this increase in my workload, I’ve noticed that by the end of the week, I need to take some real time for myself. To come back to myself, to recharge, to balance things out. It’s taken me a few weeks to realize that I need this – in the first week I felt like I needed to be everything for everyone, regardless of what point during my week I was being called upon, and what was being requested. From teaching classes to being a soundboard to my friends and family, I felt like I couldn’t let anyone down. They needed me, I was blessed to be needed, so I would make sure I was available for everyone..which left me reeling.

Last week, Cat from Jivamukti London left a status on her Facebook page that seemed to speak directly to what I was experiencing – she wrote that she couldn’t be everything to everyone, not authentically. She wrote that if we can be honest with ourselves about that, we were off to a good start. I swear I felt like she wrote it for me, but that’s what I hear from a lot of my students when I speak at the beginning of my classes and after they read these blog posts…so I guess we’re all living parallel existences…

My take on it, which is exactly what Cat wrote, is this: as soon as we begin to allow ourselves to be honest with ourselves, we can begin to be honest with others. I know that I have a tendency to give until I find myself depleted. With that knowledge, I have begun to pace myself and recognize when I need to say no to things and to turn down offers or opportunities, both of which I have made a pattern of taking on for the simple reason that they presented themselves. What I have noticed in my own life is that the more I take on and commit to, the more I start resenting the lack of time I have for myself. It’s silly, because I LOVE what I do. But what this has shown me is that my internal barometer will always indicate when I’m overextending myself, and so I’m now more attuned to it.

Instead of feeling badly about saying no to someone who’s asking for my attention and energy, I now realize that by explaining to someone that I’m not “fully present” due to running myself ragged, I’m letting them know that I have the respect for them that they deserve, and that while I may be refusing to engage in the moment, I’m also presenting another day and time for us to pick up the discussion…another point in time where I will be 100% authentic, present and able to give them the attention they’re asking for and that I feel they deserve. I am blessed to trusted enough to be the “go-to” person for many people, and I take that responsibility incredibly seriously. With that said, I have come to the understanding that by being honest with myself about these things, I am empowered to be honest with others. And in doing so, I am strengthening the connection and bonds that exist between us. No one wants to disappoint those they care about, or those that seek them out for guidance or a sympathetic ear, but pretending to be fully present while offering a fraction of the energy with a diminished attention span doesn’t do any good. We have to move away from the place where we are afraid to be frank and let people know what our reality is. And instead of letting them down, we’ll see that we are more appreciated than we thought we’d be, only because we’ve let people into our space of truth.

This is what I’m putting out there for you: how honest are you with yourself? What are you avoiding, and what is the worst that you think can happen by simply being real? If the yoga practice opens us up to the infinite truth of who we are and why we’re here, why would we allow that flow of understanding to suddenly halt in our communication with others? I hate to use an expression that is often regurgitated, but the time is now. One huge moment of awakening for me was in 1991 when Madonna‘s concert-documentary Truth or Dare was released. I had a wall-size poster of it on my bedroom wall, and every night before bed I would look at it and read the caption at the top of it: “The Ultimate Dare is to Tell The Truth.” It empowered me to be authentic and honest with my family and friends about my sexuality (was the Madonna poster not a big enough hint?), and not only opened up communication amongst us, but it made the bonds between us virtually indestructible.

So how can you move into a place of 100% authenticity? What aren’t you dealing with? And why not? I guarantee that the fear behind your inability to address these issues is way worse than what the future holds for you once everything has moved into a place of truth and honesty.

So there you are. It’s your move 🙂 Truth or Dare.