The Breakfast Club is Property of Universal Pictures.
Forrest Gump tells us that “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get.” But actually, life is like high school with someone’s finger holding down the repeat button. That is of course, if you fail to cultivate veracity.
Veracity is the sixth virtue of #TheItyProject. Veracity has to do with honesty, but not simply telling the truth – living the truth. Are you true to your word? Are you credible? Do you overpromise or under deliver? Do you say one thing and then do another? Simply put, do you contradict yourself?
Each week, I work through Sri Swami Sivananda’s Eighteen Ities with my classes and in my own personal life. In a short period of time, I have seen a difference in myself. I have made adjustments and changes, but most notably, I feel closer to knowing myself. My true self, without the BS.
To know thyself is one of the goals of yoga. When we peel away the layers of ego, expectations, pride, envy, roles, and ambition we feel vulnerable, perhaps even “uncool”. We are no longer hiding behind the stories that we tell about ourselves.
As I was researching this virtue, this particularly raw and honest scene from The Breakfast Club came to mind. In this scene, the cast of misfit characters representing the different cliques of the high school come clean about the reality of how they will behave Monday morning despite the connections they have made in detention.
Most of us have manifested this scene in our lives at some point. We have realized that we often create different realities for different situations. We have allowed friendships and relationships to suffer at the hands of cliques and ego. We have left others behind in the name of ambition and pride. We have played politics, gossiped, and spoken behind people’s backs.
Some of us leave this behavior behind with youth, yet many of us do not. In fact, we find ourselves sliding in and out of these patterns depending upon the company we keep. When we cultivate veracity, we begin to take right action as a matter of course. Rather than playing it small and letting the stories we tell about ourselves and one another dictate our realities, we live with humility and grace. We live with abiding character.
Sincerity is the fourth virtue of The Eighteen Ities as laid out by Sri Swami Sivananda. And as it happens, one of the thirteen virtues in which Benjamin Franklin committed to when he set his sights on becoming a more moral and virtuous man.
Sincerity in thought, word, and deed is the epitome of “walking the walk and talking the talk”. It is the absence of hypocrisy and deceit in ones actions and words, but also in ones thoughts and intentions. Our purpose in yoga is to bring our bodies, minds, and spirits into alignment with one another. When we embrace sincerity as a practice, we embrace our truth. We are working towards our external lives being a reflection of our internal truths.
Interestingly, the concepts of ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truth) play a pivotal role in our efforts to live with sincerity. For example, I cannot be sincere and compassionate with others if I do not cultivate non-violence towards myself. I cannot hope to reflect my inner world through my actions if my inner world is in chaos. I cannot begin to tell the truth to others if I myself do not look at my life truthfully.
- Do you hold a PhD in sarcasm? You may be hiding behind it because you are not brave enough to say what you truly believe.
- Perhaps you have your Masters Degree in passive aggressiveness? See #1.
- Do you gossip? To what end?
- Can you keep confidences? Are you trustworthy?
- Do you lie? No? But how often do you leave part of the truth out? What purpose does that serve? Is it self-serving?
When we get caught up in ego and vanity, it can smother our true nature. We can work towards humility when we run our thoughts, word, and deeds through the filter of sincerity. Take a moment to pause and ask yourself:
- Is it the truth?
- Is this kind?
- Is this necessary? (Particularly if the “truth” can cause pain.)
- What is my intention?
What do you consider beautiful?
What is ugly?
Can you see the perfection in imperfection,
or the illusion in external beauty?
Work to move past your limited views and perceptions.
Cultivate your ability to see the beauty in all things. . .
not simply joyful, happy and esthetically pleasing things,
but the dark, uncomfortable and traumatic things as well.
Vanity is not limited to our personal ideas of external beauty. It is also our deeply connected to our ego. Anytime we are not our true selves, we succumb to vanity. Anytime we try to portray ourselves as other, boast of our accomplishments, attach ourselves to praise, or even belittle ourselves – we are not being true to who we are.
The absence of vanity is the rising above our ego. It is humility.
Abandoning vanity is the recognition that everything IS NOT ABOUT US.
Abandoning vanity means we learn to not take things personally.
Cultivating an absence of vanity in our relationships requires us to stop competing, drop comparisons and listen to the good in what another is saying.
Abandoning vanity creates and nurtures space for love, compassion, sincerity and connectedness.
This week, notice the role vanity plays in your yoga practice. Do you have to wear certain clothes to be comfortable? Can you let go of comparisons to others or what you could do yesterday? When you look in the mirrors, are you checking your alignment or how you look? Observe what happens when you dislike a posture, a cue, or a song. . . realize this isn’t about “YOU”.