In a time of crazy spin and perplexing presidential wins, Norwich YogaBuds Yoga Teacher Jackie Heffer-Cooke takes an honest, hard, look at truth, what it is, and how we can find it for ourselves…
Truth, I think, becomes shrouded with all kinds of stuff. Sometimes I feel like I’m not sure what it is and where to look for it, but deep inside I know it is when I am being untruthful, the least authentic, that I feel the most conflict in my head and tension in my body.
Last month I went walking up the mountains of the lake district. One day I found myself up Orrest Head, where at the peak you can see the whole of Lake Windermere, the sea, the Pennines and the top of the highest peak in England, Ska Fell Pike, which I had climbed two days before. At the top of Orrest Head was a plaque with a map, and some words written by Wainwright – the most famous hiker and writer of fell walking in The Lakes. It Said:
“Quite suddenly we emerged from the shadows of the trees and were on a bare headland, and as though a curtain had been dramatically drawn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view… this was truth.”
Mountains are truths. Like old trusted friends. Like the love for your children. Like the happiness of a sunset. It’s so wonderful to be sure of things, it sets you free, free from your own conflict and inner voice, that’s why it’s wonderful to climb mountains, drink tea with friends, hug our babies and watch sunsets.
And do yoga…
Every month in YogaBuds we focus on an aspect of yoga, this month this quote is our starting point. Finding space to pull back a curtain and reveal truth. This may be helpful if you are aware of some questions swimming around in your head that you just can’t find the answer to, it might be helpful if you feel your life is unauthentic to who you are, it might be helpful to allow you to speak up, to use your voice.
We practise Satya in yoga – truthfulness – being honest in our words and actions. How we can think, speak and act with integrity, without being harmful.
Satya – sat means “that which exists, that which is” – satya is seeing things as they actually are, not as we want them to be. This is easy when you are looking at a mountain, it actually is, and will be before and after we exist. But it is harder when we look at our lives. We are all so different, differed experiences, we see things differently. So, what is ‘The Truth’, or ‘Our Truth?’ I guess this is when it comes to Personal Truth. Does your life reflect who you are? Do you speak the truth? Do you express yourself honestly, clearly, have a rich creative life? Do you hear and are you heard? Are you allowed self-expression? Do you allow yourself?
Speak your truth
Whether or not you believe in chakras, it’s worth investigating the 5th chakra, called, vishuddha, located in your throat. We need to speak our truth.
Interestingly, when I was in The Lakes I overheard a conversation in a hotel. Two neuro-scientists from Australia here in England lecturing on Neuro pathways, (I tell the truth). They were talking about ‘the scripts’ that people run in their heads, how we believe then to be true, particularly if we say them out loud. Now these scripts are what make us individuals, but do we have to run these scripts and say these words? No. We can change the scripts if they are unhelpful to us. It takes some doing and the first step is awareness. Pulling back the curtain. And yoga is really good at making us aware of who we are.
Let me give you an example. For a good few years I worked in TV, as a TV Producer and Executive. Did I enjoy it? Yes, the team team-work, the creativity, the buzz. But was I happy? No. there was an internal conflict that went on consistently in my head. I knew I was at times doing things I didn’t believe in, and at times I knew that what I was doing was wrong. But I made excuses for it. Now, we are all different, I am not saying that The Truth Is what I was doing was wrong. But for me, it was, and that is MY truth. So, I had to decide what to do. Eventually I changed my lifestyle, my career, and now I run The Orange Grove Clinic and teach Yoga and Birthing. I believe in the good of this, I am happier.
Am I always authentic?
So, with this month’s practise I have been self-studying and watching when I am not truthful, when I am not authentic. There are occasions… It’s been interesting. I have been viewing these moments as a watchful observer, and having a meditate and muse on them. Where do they come from? How do they make me feel? Is it important? Slowly I am accepting them and seeing what else I can do. For example, like everyone, occasionally I row with my husband. This month I have been letting him speak – use his voice – and I have not been pre-empting his conversation with my normal response. I have listened. Then I have asked him to listen, openly, and let me speak and hear my response. It’s been helpful so far..
Also, I am aware that I work a lot. It’s my addiction, because I enjoy it, but there are times when I know I could be a better mother, I could spend that hour with my child after school and really listen and be there for them, rather than answering emails on my phone… Living this way makes me anxious, makes me guilty, and makes me sad. So, I have been real about my authentic mothering and been putting my work aside when they get home from school. Just to be with them. Just to be present. Maybe to bake a cake, or watch Planet earth 2 with hot chocs on the sofa.
Already I feel happier…
So this is the yoga I practise. Karma yoga. Yoga in action. Focus on self-study, meditate, or simply be mindful of what your intention is for your practise. Get together a great Asana practise to help, and be with it for a while. For me it’s a way of life, it’s helpful, my therapy, but also a happiness.
Here are some tips to help your practise:
- Set an intention. Think about what you need, maybe getting help with speaking the truth, being able to express yourself clearly, finding a way of being honest.
- Recognise if there is a conflict, if you are living something which goes against who you are, view it like an observer, and be aware of it.
- Work with opening the throat, releasing tension around the neck and jaw.
- Sing more this month – with your true voice 🙂
- Listen to someone with your whole self for 5 minutes, then have them listen to you. Do not comment during that time, not even with your face.
- Speak up about something you have been silent about. Not in a harmful way, but in a considered way. Buddhism – called Right Speech – nonharmful – Satya – slowing down, filtering, so when we say it, we reflect non-violent words.
- Repeat a useful affirmation like: I am heard, it is good, right and safe to express my true self
- Do shoulder and neck rolls every day.
And here are some Asanas (postures) to help: (*always do Asanas safely with good guidance, do not try the below without understanding what you are doing)
Ah of delight, jaw release and self-massage
Easy Neck Release
Arms out to side, finger tips to floor – move neck back and forth
Hare and Cobra
Warriors 1, 2 and 3
Dandasana with Upward chest
Upward plank to boat
Kneeling arms above head and squeeze block – wide way (wheel prep)
Wheel if you can, if not stick to bridge
Shoulder or Plow pose
Supported Fish pose
Legs up wall pose
Meditation – Meditate on knowing yourself. Being in your Inner quiet. Standing on top of mountain – no sound – just you and your self. Be at the top. Be aware of your own nature and truth at the top. Knowing yourself is fundamental to inner peace.