My grandmother is an amazing woman of 97 years. She has six children, sixteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. She loves the music of Andre Rieu, old movies starring Howard Keel and Doris Day, flowers, her daily prayers, a warm fire and the company of her family. This week my mum, my aunts & my uncle had to make a difficult choice. As a family they have cared for her for the last eight years in the home she raised them in. Recently as her health declined they talked and decided to move her into fulltime care. Taking care of her was beginning to take its toll on them. They aren’t qualified carers and no matter how good their intentions were in keeping her at home, their own health was beginning to suffer. In speaking their truth to each-other they gave themselves the gift of allowing their relationship with their mother to change from one of care to one of presence, love and support. In making this choice they have given her gifts - the gift of true time with her and the gift of her feeling safe and looked after in a bright space with people her own age to chat with.
One of the teachings on the Forrest Yoga Teacher Training is to truth speak. We are challenged with it from the start. At the beginning it’s difficult to actually define it. What is truth speaking? For me it is speaking from the heart to what is real for me in any moment. It is speaking without agenda. It feels vulnerable and in the same vein it’s freeing. It's expressing from a place of love and compassion. It allows for open honest relationships with people in our lives and it's probably one of the scariest and most challenging teachings to commit to fully.
One of my fellow trainees asked us this week to truth speak about how things have been for us since training. It was an interesting request. Since training I've been living in Ireland, doing what I need to do to set up life here, traveling from here for workshops and retreats and until I saw her post I thought I had been speaking my truth; I thought I had been being completely honest and truthful in my relationships. As with any lesson in life, the minute we think we have the answer or that we have succeeded the universe presents us a test.
Following her request I hit a wall energetically. I had been in the UK and travelled across Ireland three times in the space of a week and I was drained. How did I react? I did what I do best, I ignored the tiredness as I had made commitments to friends and family and I wasn’t willing to let any of them go for fear of causing annoyance or hurt. I was at that point where I was irritated with everything and everyone and as I arrived in the door after yet another trip my mum turned and said; “You look wrecked and what on earth are you doing to yourself?!”.
Great. Just what I needed to hear!
My defensives stayed in place and I went into knowing mode - "I know what you are saying, I will do better next time blah blah blah" - all the while feeling angry as I responded. She hugged me and I couldn’t even allow myself to feel her compassion, support and love. I felt stuck, resistant and defensive. Holding it all together was easier than admitting that I had failed.
Who had I failed? Me! I had failed myself. The essence of self-care had left the building and now I was back to square one and having to admit that I needed support.
As I went to yoga and to catch up with a friend the following day, I finally allowed myself to feel the upset, the tiredness and the anger. In giving all week to others and not acknowledging what I needed, I finally let go and spoke to what was true for me and she listened. She really listened with compassion and kindness and in the space of a few minutes I felt more free than I had all week. All the pent up emotion that had turned situations over the week into full on soaps operas in my head suddenly came out and the release felt freeing.
Why do we shy away from truth speaking when it gives us the gift of freedom? What are we so afraid of by speaking our truth? Is it judgement? Is it that we are afraid we will offend others? Is it that our deepest wishes could come true and we aren’t quite sure we are ready for them to happen just yet?
Something I have recognized is that when we choose to do it all ourselves we shortchange the people we love and who love us. We block the support available to us. We sit with our own tales of woe and actually go into victim mode. We stop being present to ourselves and to others. By not saying what is true for us, we don't allow others to open up and actually be their own truth speaker.
Just as it took courage for my family to make the choice for my grandmother in order to support themselves and her in a better way, by us having courage to speak from our hearts we give permission for new gifts of support to come into our lives and we give others the opportunity to speak their own truth.
As I sit with the essence of speaking truth it strikes me that by stepping into vulnerability and outside of my comfort zone I get to live how I want to live, I get to be the me who I am at my core and I get to be present to my life, my family, my friends, my colleagues and my students. And the truth is this is infinitely better than being in shutdown. As Mark W Perrett said;
“Not telling the truth is the quickest way to turn yourself into a stranger.”
Is there someone you need to truth speak with today? What are you afraid of saying to another? What do you need to say to let go of something that has created hurt, anxiety or shutdown within you? How can you free yourself from fear by speaking a truth you need to share today?
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