Being truthful in our thoughts, words, and actions can create integrity and harmony in our lives. It provides us with a foundation for connected relationships with others and ourselves. When we are able to speak what we truly feel and believe, we set the foundation for honest and open communication with others.
Being truthful can also be linked to good health. In 2012, Anita Kelly, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame, spent 10 weeks tracking the health of 110 adults. "When they told more lies, their health went down," she has said. "And when they told the truth, it improved." In fact, she found that people who told three fewer minor lies a week had four fewer mental health complaints and three fewer physical complaints.
Deliver Truth with Compassion
Telling the truth can be very different from simply voicing our opinions and judgments. Yesterday while shopping, I was trying on clothes in the dressing room and I heard the woman next to me saying to her friend, "I'm just going to tell you the truth! That dress looks awful on you! I hate that color and the way it hangs!" The other woman said, "Really? I kind of like it, I feel good in it." The woman was offering her friend an opinion that didn't match what her friend was feeling. Opinions connect us to our thinking mind. They are quite often rooted in judgments, where as being truthful requires listening to our hearts. Real truth involves a level of compassion that can trump the negative effects of the brutal honesty we deliver to others in order to be real. Using the truth as a weapon lacks compassion. For our inner truth to emerge we need to hold a place of tenderness as we pay attention to what we are feeling in each moment. This kind of moment-by-moment awareness leads us to what is true.
How Yoga Can Help Us Be More Truthful
Our daily yoga practice gives us the tools to face ourselves with kindness and honesty. On our yoga mat we have the choice to listen to our body or disregard what is being presented to us in every moment. For example, if we start to slide into a seated forward bend and we feel the agonizing pull of the hamstrings, we can retreat, push, or pause. If we retreat, we disengage and that may take the pressure off, but we also might lose some valuable information the posture is offering us about ourselves if we were to stay engaged. If we push through, we are going against the simple truth that our body is telling us (or yelling us) in that moment. We are disregarding the message to reach some sort of outcome or meet some goal we have created for ourselves. If we pause, we can listen more deeply and gather more information. We are inviting a dialogue with our own body.
When we become skilled at pausing and listening we gain a sense of clarity and honesty with ourselves. This kind of honesty goes a long way in teaching us about aligning with our own inner truth. When we step out of what is true for us, we pay a price. If we try to be someone else or something else, or if we try to be somewhere we are not, it's like trying to swim against the current.
Doing yoga postures daily gives us the opportunity to align ourselves with how we are feeling. In time, we begin to trust ourselves and honor what is right for us. We move, we observe, we explore our edges. We notice our resistance, our sensations, and feelings as we drop into the richness of each moment. It's there that we meet our authentic self. The more we practice, the more opportunity we have to cultivate a heartfelt connection to ourselves. Being authentic comes from knowing ourselves and honoring what we know to be true for us in any given moment. If we think, speak and act from our truth our lives begin to take shape around the organizing principle of honesty. The truth finds its way from our hearts into the hearts of those around us.
Have you noticed a difference in how you feel when speak the truth?
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