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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- Tags: Ahimsa, fear, Health, honesty, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Satya, suffering, truth, Yoga