It’s nice to be nice… but nicer to be truthful.
The yoga world promotes ‘niceness’ but a true sign of spiritual congruence is authenticity. Why? Because truth cuts much deeper than superficial hugs and seeming acts of kindness. To know this, we learn to embrace our shadow and harmonize when we recognise our shadow traits in others. When we accept ‘the other’, warts and all, we release parts of our self that are otherwise ‘locked-down’. The Tantra model teaches us to embrace all aspects of the self, not just the nice bits!
Truth Seeks Manifestation
‘A lie can be half the way around the world before the truth has even got its boots on’.
I don’t claim to be a nice person, you may or may not get along with me and I’m OK with that! You may receive a hug, a spontaneous act of eudemonic giving, a burst of energy that I could not suppress. But if this does not happen it’s not yours or my doing – neither of us can control this. Something deeper than thought, either repels or brings us together. My wish is to show love for you. Yours is to flow freely with me. But, something underlying sways our actions. Out of fear of rejection, we employ judgement as a safety tactic to prevent us uniting. However, understanding this alone can free-up space for our cells to begin harmonising. Here, with a little patience, we align with the all-pervasive life force that connects us all.
Apes alone – weak
Apes together – strong
Apes – stupid!
Social cohesion with intrapersonal integrity, allows us to own our independence and respect others with kindness and understanding. A lasting cohesive strategy, is to maximize our ability to grow and serve the ‘greater good’ whilst doing so. In yoga, this is referred to as Isvara Pranidhana – devotion to a higher purpose.
When following the flock, we may feel more complete, but, overtime, this can become internally restrictive. Why? Because common view rarely celebrates individualism and to fit in we often curb our opinions and behaviours. The idea of belonging to a ‘tribe’, be it religious, ethical or politically correct is subjective and limiting. We must go beyond all dogma to fully expand.
In yoga, steya, or truth, is heavily valued. Authenticity knows no boundary and has the capacity to influence others. So, don’t be afraid to go against the grain now again. If it feels right – dance to the beat of your own drum – you may be pleasantly surprised what impact this has on others.
Give and let go
Moksha is liberation and truth waters its growth. Eudemonic giving, as opposed to pleasure seeking hedonistic giving, means we extend ourselves to others without expectation. Self-expression of this nature breeds feelings of trust over insecurity and promotes social cohesion. Such maturity better prepares us to face worldly truths and builds emotional resilience – we need not rely on protective strategies.
When we give, without the desire for self-gain, we benefit in other ways. Oxytocin, a neurotransmitter, is released when eudemonic giving occurs. Such acts are triggered by authenticity and bypass any subconscious holding patterns that limit self-expression. Oxytocin counteracts cortisol, the toxic stress hormone which inhibits many bodily functions such as digestion and our ability to think rationally. When over produced, cortisol impairs our ability to choose meaningful emotions over fearfulness. Such reptilian, survival mechanisms rarely make for good social interaction and our work is to employ more evolved ways of dealing with life’s stressors and strains.
Perception or Nuro-ception?
So, why do you like certain people and not others? It’s all a matter of how safe you feel. We don’t always get to choose – some people challenge us; others promote feelings of security. The more danger we feel, the more primitive our neuro-chemical response. The work is to understand why we judge, ‘read into’ or portray others. Authenticity then helps to flush out any unhealthy thoughts and replace them with trust.
The Problem is, the reptilian brain is all too capable of shutting down. This causes disassociation, because when we freeze, and ‘shut down’ at least we feel safe.
So, how do you get out of such a debilitating habit? Here we must learn to develop ‘truth resilience’ by nurturing trusting relationships. To prepare for this, firstly, we align with our own values and beliefs. We do this through self-regulation which requires an innate understanding of our true needs – this is known as swadhyeya or self-study.
‘The Polyvagal Theory’ suggests the mind is prone to overestimate danger – especially where trauma is concerned. Many now suffer from social trauma and it is important to recognise that minor trauma can have major consequences. Trauma is not psychological but physiological – to ‘get over it’ is not always the solution – it often requires retraining of the Polyvagal social network.
Polyvagal hyperactivity works in monotone and causes loss of connection to facial expressions, eye contact and voice tonality. The mind simply makes fear based assumptions instead. This is perhaps why social media and text messaging are often misconstrued.
Entrainment, on the other hand, uses methods which guide other towards feelings of safety and acceptance. In today’s fast pace living, communication skills such as patience, open body language and eye contact are under-utilised. Hence, in a world of advanced communication, we feel more disconnected than ever.
‘Showing-up’ or simply creating space for others to be heard, flicks the vagal switch in a positive direction for both speaker and listener. So by developing entrainment skills, we build secure attachments and lasting relationships.
In Yoga Spectrum Therapy, we recognise that correcting the neuro-network of the body can reorient our experience. After bringing momentary awareness, feelings of acceptance and safety, the therapist seeks to transfix the experience in the body. We do this through somatic micro movements that develop maximum ‘memory muscle’. Such body-brain activation reconditions unwanted holding patterns and develops emotional tolerance. Thus, the physiological baseline is greatly improved upon.