Your Heart Knows the Truth
Sometimes being among large gatherings of yogis can seem like a runway show featuring the latest and greatest yoga fashion. My experience during a recent yoga retreat was no exception. Tank tops emblazened with the word "grateful" across the front, the current season of Lululemon joggers strutting down the hall, every color and iteration of mala beads and prayer bracelets. I caught myself fantasizing about detouring into the gift shop, which offered all of these treasures, just on my way to the practice studio. But what really got my mind going wasn't these latest trends or fashions… but pants with elephants on them.
I found myself smiling, almost laughing, every time I saw someone wearing these baggy, oversized, brightly colored harem pants with a very bold elephant print on them. These pants were not subtle. They sent my mind reeling. I was having thoughts like: "No one will take you seriously, especially your students, if you show up in a class wearing these." “What will people think of me when I walk into class, let alone down the street!?”
Then suddenly I realized something. The deepest part of me really loved these pants. I decided to try them on the gift shop and, before even looking in the mirror, I FELT good. I was comfortable in these one-size-fits all, $25, non-designer wonders. They made my heart full. And when I did eventually turn around and see them in the mirror, I smiled back at me.
Years ago, before I began my practices of mindfulness, compassion and yoga, you would be hard pressed to find me even trying these pants on. The thought that others might judge me was enough to make me steer clear of these pants and head straight for the designer section. The more aware of these thoughts about other people’s judgement I have become (which may or may not be an accurate reflection of reality, mind you) the more I have grown to realize that I have the choice to take counsel from them or not. The mind can and does say all sorts of things, but ultimately I am the one who is living this life and I get to make the choices. So here is the dilemma: do I make my choices based on the fear of what others might think, or do I make my choices based on what I know is best for me?
Perhaps you have heard the quote, "The heart knows the truth, the mind is a liar." Let’s step around the fact that generalizations like these can be risky, and that really the decisions we are usually most contented with are made through a good balance of the head and the heart. It’s interesting, right? To consider that perhaps our mind isn't as helpful as it says it is… that it might actually be leading us away from our deepest knowing… away from the life we actually want to be living.
And then the choice becomes a simple one. It’s me. When I make the space to step back, it’s always me that makes the best choices for my self. Because I am the expert on me and, guess what, you are the expert on you. I promise. Over the long and winding path of the past 15 years since first stepping foot onto a yoga mat, I have developed the capacity to love my self and to honor my voice. A voice that, even when drown out by the voices of others, has been there all along. Your voice is there too. It may be just a whisper now, but it is there too. It takes awareness, intention and practice, but just like me you can hear your voice and honor it by simply listening. And your heart is a rewarding one, just like mine. If you listen, your heart just might let you in on the secrets of what brings you joy and contentment. A life of peace and ease.
So those elephant pants? Yeah, I totally bought them. And as I walked out of the gift shop door smiling, I noticed something... other people were smiling at me too.