Lately I've been thinking about what it means to be honest. I mean, really honest. Some of us have a habit of telling white lies. Some of us construct elaborate scenarios about our pasts or future in order to get us what we want. We can lie to ourselves about who we really are--we can say we're stupid, no good, and undeserving of anything good that comes our way, when really the opposite is true. And then, there are other kinds of lies that we tell ourselves.
I am not a chronic liar. Nor do I enjoy telling white lies. But one of the few concrete memories I have of being a little kid involves a lie. When I was about three years old, I sat with my brother, staring at a tiny nick in my bedroom's rainbow wallpaper. I looked at my brother with what was probably a devilish grin and grabbed at the nick, pulling off big chunks. My brother, who was less than two years old and didn't really talk yet, sat and watched.
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and my mother walked in after my brother and I were admiring my handiwork. "Who did this?!" she shouted. Fear filled my gut, and I pointed my finger at my brother and spoke ever-so-convincingly, "He did!"
My poor brother, who was too young to talk and defend himself, knew before the shit hit the fan what my false accusation meant. He started crying immediately, one of the few expressions his little toddler vocabulary allowed for. My mother, who was always the most restrained, loving, and gentle woman, must have reached her wits' end. We were never spanked, but my brother got one that day.
I remember four-year-old me listening to him cry and feeling this strange emotion come up in me. I sat on that story for a good long time. Not until I was a teenager did my brother, mom and I talk about that day. My mother was shocked to learn the "real" story. My brother also remembers the incident and still feels just the tiniest bit pissed off about it. Thankfully, we can laugh about it now. It felt good, even as a teenager, to talk about it.
I don't think I tell such bald-faced lies anymore. But maybe I've just learned to tell more elaborate ones--especially to myself.
I've been practicing Bikram yoga for over a year and a half now, and I always had a regular yoga practice before I started this. I should be no stranger to stretching and strengthening by now! However, when it comes down to it, I admit I rarely give 100% in class. This is especially true in any hamstring stretch poses. For no good reason whatsoever, I am terrified of pulling a muscle in hands-to-feet pose or any of the head-to-knee poses. I get myself "into" the posture and hang out right in the comfort zone. "Save some energy for later. You're gonna injure yourself," I tell myself. "You're already working hard enough just being in the hot room."
It's as bad as the straight-up lie I told my mom as a child.
OK, so, lying to yourself about how hard you're working in yoga class isn't the biggest problem on the planet. But isn't what we do in class a mirror of what we do in life? The little lies we tell ourselves are just the walls we build to our own prisons.
Tonight, I stopped the lying in my yoga classafter being present enough to first recognize that there was no need to hold myself back in standing-head-to-knee pose. I was able to see it was just fear. I pulled my head just a little bit further toward my feet. I allowed myself to feel discomfort in the back of my legs. It may not have been "Pain sensation," but for the first time in a long time, I let myself really feel something. No fear, no lies, just feeling.
And guess what? It felt good.