Honestly, How Do you Feel?
An excerpt from an article published by Yoga Dork: “Yoga is not about bliss, but about honesty. Spirituality is not certainty, but the longing of the heart. Enlightenment is not ‘letting go’ of bad feelings, but understanding them, what they’re doing to us, and how they are expressed in the body. Non-harming and forgiveness are not about feeling generous or big enough (bigger than and condescending), but knowing the difficulty of right actions and assuming responsibility for the difficult. Forgiveness often comes directly out of acknowledging how bloody bitter we are. Love is not joy, all the time. Sometimes, love hurts. Love is raw.
Yoga is a love story. Not the fluffy, romanticized love story, but the real one. The kind that leaves you changed.”
Perhaps you’ve been in this situation before. Something happens to you, or is bothering you, or someone really hurt your feelings and you have a hard time figuring out whether or not to say something. Anything. Sometimes we sit with it for so long that at one point or another we decide it just isn’t even worth it anymore. But often times when we sit with it for long enough and don’t speak up, we will constantly be challenged with this same issue until it is resolved. No matter how much we try to ignore it, it’ll pop up out of nowhere. When did we decide that honesty among friends, family and partners wasn’t ‘ok’? I don’t know about you, but no matter what my response is when I hear honest feedback, I appreciate it more than if someone just didn’t say anything. If I hurt someone and they didn’t tell me it hurts me even more. Which is why I try to be honest about my feelings as much as I can. But I have many many moments of repressing my thoughts and feelings, and I wonder ‘is this worth it?’
Teaching yoga has helped guide me to the acknowledgement and ‘understanding’ of my emotions, thoughts, and actions through awareness and discernment. For whatever reason, one of my behavioral habits is that I often shame myself for being honest and/or assertive when I voice my opinion about something I believe in (another habit). Let’s face it. I’m one of those people (and as a yoga teacher it’s a sign 😉 who wants to learn to accept myself, but also feel accepted by others. I’m someone who has a yearning desire for my voice to be heard (and this, my friends, is a whole other topic). I think we all do. But somewhere along our path (whether culturally, or as a women, as a man, or as leaders) we were taught to keep our mouths shut. We were taught to believe that those who stand up and speak out about how they feel are obnoxious and crude and need to be ‘quiet.’ I know this because not only do I believe in speaking up against injustice, against hate, against prejudice etc., I also have been trained to believe that when I do and when others do we somehow shouldn’t.
This has been a battle between my heart and my mind since I can remember. How do I stand up for what I’m passionate about & yet stand up in a way that no one else feels offended or hurt by my approach? Knowing that this just isn’t possible all the time I still have a hard time grasping the boundaries around this. This is where the shame comes in, and this is where my yoga practice and my yoga teaching has taught me so much about myself and my behavioral patterns. My yoga practice has been a guiding light that continues to bring a conscious awareness to the darkest corners of myself, and sometimes it just ain’t pretty. It’s raw. It’s rich. It’s real. And most of the time I truly have no idea what to do about it. So I just sit with it. Reflect upon it. I cry a lot which helps me release some tension that arises from my thoughts. And I try really hard to allow it to just ‘be.’ Allowing it to just ‘be’ has been the most profound experience for me learning more deeply about myself.
Currently, in my life this is still a huge work in progress. But instead of sitting with my shame for a long period of time, I understand its value. If I didn’t feel shame, I would never have understood my habit to begin with. Moving forward, I’m thinking about how to approach situations with more love and more understanding, but knowing that when I, or someone I love, experiences injustice or disrespect that standing up and speaking out is ok to do. I just keep opening myself up to the opportunity to speak out with more love, keeping the same amount of assertiveness that, to me, is the kind that truly transforms.
Yoga is a TRUE love story. In my opinion, love in any relationship is meant to make us grow and to help us learn more about ourselves. Yoga is the same. Keep up your practice, beyond asana, and you will start to see how your life is constantly being shifted by its beauty.
Love to all.
eRYT500, Yin Certified, Educated in Soft Tissue Release by Yoga Tune Up
Founder of Satya Flow Yoga