The Worrier to Warrior Blog

Weekly Reclamations of a Courageous Heart

ANXIETY VS. TRUTH

In this second blog in the series – “Easing Anxiety Through the Paths of Yoga”, we turn to another “yama” or “personal vow” outlined within yoga philosophy. The next ethical observance at the heart of the practice is “Satya”, which means “truthfulness” or “non-lying”. What’s interesting about the suggested focus points to use when dedicating ourselves to the art of paying attention to our lives, is the opportunity to cultivate the opposite. Rather than only focusing on being truthful, the teachings suggest practicing restraint over lying. This is helpful because the truth can be elusive.

Anxiety, shame and perfectionism can be partially defined as unquestioned, untrue thinking. But, until we experience the freedom of new perspectives, we may be imprisoned in lies about ourselves and our lives. Many of us are unintentionally living from lies. Our inner voice, which is a compilation of internalized messaging we’ve taken in from our families of origin, community, media etc. is generally a repetitive loop of useless information.

We’re on the receiving end of a judgmental soundtrack that is our negativity bias and the song that’s on repeat is called “not good enough”. Not a good enough mother, friend, teacher, employee, manager, writer, daughter, listener, communicator, lover, time manager, dieter, meditator, worker, saver, dater…we know our personal places of unworthiness by heart.

What happens when you begin to look inside with an eye for deep truth? Bringing curious awareness to the quality of your thoughts is step one. Consider an area of your life where you feel insecurity. What are the thoughts that come up as you attend to this area? Write your thoughts down. Rinse them out. Read over your doubts and fears and begin to question them. Are they true? What thoughts can be attributed to the unhealthy side of shame? Shame can either be shifted into responsibility as we use it to guide us toward living truthfully, or it can shroud our sense of self and cause us to avoid and shrink from the truth of who we are.

The Anatomy of a Thought

The thoughts we have about ourselves, the people we love and the people we “other” (sever ourselves from due to cultural or ideological differences, comparison or assuming the role of the victim, villain or any archetype that promotes the illusion of separateness) originate from our beliefs. We believe things even if we’re not conscious of them. The beliefs are so deeply ingrained we think, speak and act based on them.

Meaning, the beliefs we carry, fuel our thoughts and feelings.

We take actions based on those feelings and the results from actions based on untrue thinking can reinforce the original belief, which only causes it to root itself deeper. As we mature emotionally, we might suspect that what we believe may be hurting us more than helping us. We then begin the meaningful and often challenging work of “self study” (another branch of the tree of yoga).

An old belief of mine was that self-study was “navel-gazing”; a self-indulgent waste of time. Rather than blindly go on believing my own judgment, I can question if that thought is true and where it might have come from.

Many of us learned early on that hard work and hustle is “good” and that time spent without achievement and profit is “bad”. Through that lens, we might feel guilt and overwhelm about the way we use our time. Overwhelm and other negative emotions deplete us and prevent us from showing up in the full truth of who we are. Questioning that belief allowed me to break out of the narrow box of “who I am” and discern what other lies make up the foundation of my personality.

The Truth of Our Worthiness

In recent workshops and retreats, I’ve been sharing an embodied experience to help uncover unconscious beliefs that may sprout untrue thinking that keeps us isolated and anxious.

Yoga views the human body as much more than physical. When we practice yoga postures, when we perform specific breathing exercises or when we meditate, we’re affecting the outer structures AND the inner architecture of the body; the energetic body.

This subtle body is thought to contain seven main centers of energy where the physical and the psychological meet called chakras (wheels). Each wheel is related to specific physical parts of the body and different aspects of the tendencies, patterns and beliefs that make up our personalities. For example, in a strong standing pose like Warrior 2, not only are we strengthening our physical legs and feet, but our sense of safety and belonging. Just as we can lose physical strength by not utilizing our muscles, we can lose our sense of feeling safe and supported if we have unconscious beliefs that habitually tell us otherwise.

Each chakra is associated with an innate human “right”. Hearing the “rights” of each energy center while in a posture or mudra associated with it can help to recognize what truths are unclaimed and what beliefs might stand in the way. In future blogs I’ll cover more information about the energy body, in this piece, I’ll share the basic rights that can be fully lived when we are in balance and in touch with truth. As you read over the rights that many of us have unknowingly stepped away from due to harmful beliefs and thinking, notice if each right is firmly planted in you, or if there is work to be done to reclaim the truth of your worthiness.

Chakra One

Name: Muladhara “root support”- location-base of spine
RIGHT- I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE (I CAN SUPPORT MYSELF & I FEEL SUPPORTED)

Chakra Two

Name: Svadhisthana- “sweetness”- location- lower abdomen
RIGHT- I HAVE A RIGHT TO FEEL (AND EXPRESS MY FEELINGS)

Chakra Three

Name: Manipura: “lustrous gem”- location- solar plexus
RIGHT- I HAVE A RIGHT TO ACT (ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY, CREATE CHANGE)

Chakra Four
Name: Anahata- “unstruck”- location- heart
RIGHT: I HAVE A RIGHT TO LOVE (AND BE LOVED)

Chakra Five

Name- Vissudha- “purification”- location- throat
RIGHT- I HAVE A RIGHT TO SPEAK AND BE HEARD

Chakra Six

Name- Ajna- “to perceive”- location- brow (third eye)
RIGHT- I HAVE A RIGHT TO SEE AND BE SEEN

Chakra Seven

Name: Sahasrara- “thousandfold”- location- crown of head (cerebral cortex)
RIGHT- I HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW (MY OWN TRUE NATURE, SOMETHING GREATER THAN ME)

It takes time and deep personal insight to acknowledge where we doubt our worth and deservability. If you noticed that not every part of you believes some of the rights above, it might be helpful to inquire into why. For instance, where did you learn that you don’t have a right to be seen? Did you feel ignored or misunderstood often as a child? How does that lens on life colour your day to day interactions with others? How do you interpret the actions of those you spend time with? Who would you be with these rights firmly in place?

When all rights are reclaimed, we stand in the truth of our worthiness. From that great truth, we’re thinking thoughts and taking actions from a place of profound self-compassion and worth. What would you do if you understood fully how worthy and deserving you truly are? I ask myself this question often and I believe that considering the answer helps me to imagine outcomes that my old thinking could never create.

In the simplest terms, irrational fearful thoughts are typically untrue, while loving thoughts can open the door to the place yoga names our “true nature”. To me, this is a place within us that is at peace, the part of us that isn’t afraid.

Remembering that there is a place within me without fear is a constant source of comfort that inspires me to continue to uproot my untrue thinking. Cultivating “satya” is an effective practice for soothing the anxious mind and body because it reminds us we’re much stronger than we’ve been taught we are. Anyone who tells us differently (including ourselves) is coming from untrue judgments and filters. You don’t have to believe your own thoughts, you do have to believe in your own worth.

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