Satya: The Truth Hurts

"The way of peace is the way of truth. Truthfulness is even more important than peacefulness." - Gandhi

This isn't an easy story to tell. It may not be a story that will make you happy or feel joyous. It is simply a story that I need to tell.

It was a Thursday. I had just taken a marvelous Deep Hot Stretch class with Tracy in Maple Shade. I felt so relaxed and at ease, all tension released on the mat. I hopped in my car ready to take on the day, reveling in the warmth of my body.

I made a right turn out of the studio, heading my usual route to Medford. As I was listening to a True Crime podcast, my heart rate already a little elevated from the story line, I was jarred by a crash into the right side of my car.

Stunned, I looked into my rearview mirror only to see a woman hysterical on the left side of the road, hovering over what looked to be an animal. A thousand thoughts raced through my mind in one instant - the most glaring: "I think I just killed something."

I threw my car in park in the middle of the road, put my hazards on, and ran over to them - panicking and afraid to know the truth of what happened.

As I got closer I saw the dog lying in the grass and my whole world came crashing down on me. How was I going to live with the fact that I just hurt or killed this animal? After a moment - which was an eternity - the doggie started to move, walk and actually came over and sat in my lap, allowing me the sweetest moment to give him pets. I felt it was a nonverbal soul communication. We both knew we needed comfort from that traumatic experience and so we joined together.

After 10 minutes on the side of the road, giving lots of snuggles & kisses, hearing cars blaring at my car precariously parked in the road, the owner of the dog said they were fine - not to worry - and that she was going to go into the house now.

In a split second my mind questioned a thousand things again.

Should I give her my number? What if she tries to take advantage of me? Was this my fault? She said she was sorry - her dog was off the leash & across the street where they shouldn't be. Can I get sued? Will the dog be OK? Will she take them to the vet? How will I know any of this if I don't give her my contact?

And then....I left. She didn't ask so I didn't offer. Unfinished business flittering around like a pinball in my mind. The worries still hanging over my head. True - the dog was off the leash. It had ran to the other side of the road. The dog ran out from in front of a parked car so I did not even see it coming until I heard and felt the experience of it all. But still. I had played a role in this and I couldn't bear the thought of not knowing.

I wanted to leave a card, some peanut butter, some treats and my phone number to heal this wound of guilt on my heart. But I had fears. Insurance. Legality. Vet bills. I don't know this family.  What if they try to take advantage of me? After a week of worrying I called my mom for advice (thanks Mom!) She suggested filing a police report, to have this documented and to ask for their guidance on the situation.

I filed the report. But I never went to the house. Why? Because fucking life got in the way, of course! Other worries and anxieties filled the space instead and before I knew it I was swept away on another tangent of uneasiness. 

I lived in fear most of the month due to miscommunication & refraining from using my voice in many of my interpersonal relationships, except with Jonny. I struggled with my anxiety like I would back where I was years ago. I could see it all unfolding in front of me like I was watching a movie and yet I did nothing to stop it.

August has been a month of wild emotions. I reverted back to my old patterns - addiction to my anxiety and self-loathing thoughts. Refusal to ask for help from anyone but Jon; refusal to ask for connection; refusal to do the work.

This all started from one moment. Me not acting in my truth. Me not upholding my values & morals in a split second decision that broke a seam within my psyche. This is not far off from the me of years past. I used to never stand in my power. I felt and acted small. I was afraid to voice my opinions, my fears, my viewpoint. And I saw myself doing all of this - again. Building up over each day that passed.

I practiced yielding to my emotions - allowing the anxiety to flow in without any effort to curb it. I am happy I let myself feel this month as it provided me with many lessons on how I act when I feel overwhelmed, neglected, ashamed & guilty. And I saw what can happen when I do not live from my truth - it eats me alive.

To be fair, I was never good at opening up. I was always secretive. Holding my hard truths inside me so as not to burden anyone else around me. Partly because I did not want to hear those truths leave the protected home of my mind.

Looking at ourselves is not easy.

The yogic path is not easy. It means I see myself clearer when I am acting out my karmic patterns. But there had to be a point where I said fuck this! Enough is enough girl!

I met with my mentor and she could visibly see all of these things that I was carrying around. She felt I was holding on to my anxiety and to reflect on what it was feeding. She was right...It was feeding something alright..

I became addicted to my anxiety this month. Once fear lives inside me it spreads like wildfire and somehow it feels like more energy to heal than to let the flames burn me alive. But ultimately, I have a choice. Where does my anxiety stem from and what is it feeding? Where can I go from there?

I've learned much quicker this time than in years past when it's time to say ENOUGH. When it's time to make the switch. When it's time to identify that I'm no longer yielding - I'm wallowing. When it's time to stop wallowing and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! When its time to start telling the truth, seeing the truth and experiencing the truth - even when it hurts.

I had to clear. Sit down with those I needed to. To express the hard truths, the fears I was living with, to connect & heal.

And yes- I've learned how to yield. How to let these emotions flow in and flow out without needing to fix it right away. But...then what? Stay an anxious mess & drive myself crazy?

Hell to the nawwww.

And damnit I am dropping off my phone number and peanut butter!

Yielding vs. Letting Go

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.” - Lao Tzu

Let me start this off with a question. Pay attention to any triggers the question may spark for you - feel the question in your entire being.

How do you feel when you're wrapped up in your emotions, whether it be from a traumatic experience or from a day to day irritation and someone suggests to just "....let it go." How do you feel when you tell yourself, "You should just let it go.."

For me - its icky. All jumbled up in tightness. And that shit sucks..

It insinuates that there is something to fix. Something that needs changing. Something is wrong with me. This idea that we can completely let go of a thought that is bothering us completely disregards the fact that we are human - wholly analytical and emotional beings whose minds operate like waves in the ocean; thoughts rolling in & thoughts rolling out.

What if I told you that in our lives we never actually have to fix anything? That things are unfolding in the precise moment that they should, with lessons embedded throughout all of it?

If you aspire to be great advice givers, for yourself first, and secondly for others, you must consider your language when doling it out. I fell in love with this idea when I first heard it, and feel compelled to share:

Yielding vs. Letting Go

Lets start with Letting Go. Letting go of a thought that haunts us or a habit that perpetuates within our actions assumes that we are capable of releasing an emotional experience and it is never coming back. 

How about an example. Remember that cringe-worthy thing that you did back in 7th grade? You know it - that thing that just as you were about to drift comfortably off to sleep pops into your mind to keep you awake for the next 12 hours? Yeah - thats it. Well, here's the trick: just let it go.

Ahhhhhh...if only life were this easy!

That the moment a disturbing thought jumps into our mind we could eradicate it all with those three little words. Here is a hard truth for us all: stating you will let it go does not make it go away

That horrifying thought reappears primarily because you desire to wish it away, but also because there is a message or experience still to be had around it. Hyper-focusing on letting it go does not uncover truth. It does not heal the wound of the ego. It does not divulge the experience's deeper meaning.

Now forget about that weird 7th grade memory. Think of some experience in your life that is a part of your spiritual path, a lesson you may be struggling with or a memory that is wrought with emotion. Those three little words, let it go, just don't seem to be doing the trick.

Letting go is active - it requires work, struggle & internal debate. It requires you to do something about it. You should just let it go. This implies you shouldn't be experiencing 'it'. Which implies you are broken, strange, weird. Which implies you need to be fixed. Phew - that is exhausting just typing about it...

Instead, lets consider the practice of yielding.

Yielding is the passive practice of allowing things to occur as they are - just as you'd patiently wait your turn in line, yield to oncoming traffic, or be the last dog in the pack that enters the house calmly. 

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Yielding is allowing your cup to overflow. Letting the soft water caress your hands, cool your body, & experience the vulnerable experience of it, all while trusting that the water is not so strong it will sweep you away.

Yielding does not require you to do anything about your cosmic entanglements. Yielding quietly asks you to sit with what is, to experience 'it' as 'it' is - as simply an experience.

Yielding does not require you to delete your so-called disturbed 7th grade memory out of your head, because in fact it is not cringe-worthy. It does not have the inherent qualities of embarrassment or shame. It is simply an occurrence that happened at a specific point of time.

It is our perception, or saṃjñā, of the event that creates the story: that it needs to be let go. Our Saṃjñā, among the other 5 skandhas, attaches emotions like shame and guilt to an experience. These skandhas, or aggregates, falsely disillusion us during the process of consciousness, without any true meaning or substance.

All that is to be learned, all that is true, reveals itself through yielding. Many do not enjoy meditation for this very fact. Sitting, standing, lying or walking; it is all the same to the individual who does not wish to yield. It can feel anxiety-ridden, or overwhelming, to allow these thoughts to bubble up to the surface. But if this is where the thoughts so desire to be, let them happen, not let it go! 

So, how does one practice yielding?

It is simple really. When your mind drifts to that nagging thought, the one that keeps you up at night, listen to all the facets of that experience. Allow it to happen.

Check into your physical body. Where do you feel this experience you so desperately wish to annihilate? Is it in your heart? Does it live in your throat? How about your belly? Sit with the physical sensations. Do you feel tightness there? Knotted-ness? (Hey, its my blog...I can make up words if I want to!)

The first step of healing is yielding to the physical sensations. Allow them to show themselves for a time that you are comfortable with. Maybe 30 seconds. Maybe 1 minute. It isn't a contest, but an experience. Yielding means to stay; to wait your turn, just like that patient and kind person merging onto 295.

Then, what? Well, that is a story for another day. For now, I am practicing yielding. To allow things to be as they are - without my incessent need to tinker with, or to consume my entire being. To be OK with things not being OK.

“As the soft yield of water cleaves obstinate stone, to yield with life solves the insoluble.  To yield I have learned is to come back again...." - Lao Tzu
    I'd like to thank Shambhavi Sarasvati for her inspirational podcasts which led to this blog post.

 

I'd like to thank Shambhavi Sarasvati for her inspirational podcasts which led to this blog post.