Truth . . . What does it mean to speak my truth? How do I step, completely and intentionally, into the space of an authentic life? A life that I deserve and that is aligned with the deepest desires and yearnings of my soul.
I have continuously pondered these questions, and my experience in Costa Rica has affirmed the following:
To speak my truth requires that I have an unwavering commitment to the requests of my soul and heart. I’ve also come to understand that living and speaking my truth takes courage. Not the kind of courage that one is backed into when there are no other options left, but the kind of courage that precedes when our soul nudges us because the circumstance we find ourselves in is not aligned with who we are, and we are left with the choice of responding to that nudge, or ignoring it for the sake of practicality.
“The liberation of the soul comes from the simple truths of basic experience.” – From The Joy Diet
The first day I met with the folks I would be working with in Costa Rica, the Ticos were playing in the world cup, and my soon-to-be team had just finished their first leadership session with 30 kids. There was a lot to celebrate. They were hanging out at a bar with some of the local folks they had built great relationships with, and I had a couple of beers with them, before we moved on to the next bar. I’m not much of a drinker, so when I was offered some kind of local moonshine, my soul nudged me. I was immediately caught in a situation where I had a split second to make a decision that would either validate my soul, or would push me to succumb to exterior pressures and norms. I knew I didn’t want to drink, but I also knew that it was important to bond with my team and the local folks, and to be open to the experiences in Costa Rica. So I kindly rejected the glass in which the drink was about to be served, and instead offered to serve everyone at the table. For the rest of the night, though I didn’t take one extra sip of alcohol, I was able to be part of the community and the celebration that built a sense of togetherness.
It is the little everyday truths that call on our courage. Like telling your boss that a project he or she has given you will require more logistics and time than has been foreseen when you are afraid that he or she will see you as not being competent enough; explaining to a student that when he refers to poor communities as ghetto, he is further criminalizing a group of people already marginalized by oppression; or speaking up when the clerk behind the counter is being humiliated by a customer who doesn’t understand the importance of treating people with dignity.
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”
― Franz Kafka
These truths allow me to practice having courage. These are the truths I am faced more abundantly with than extraordinary, life-altering truths. I once read that the soul loves the truth. Our soul waits for us to stand up for it, to validate its presence in our lives. Sometimes our mind fools us into not speaking our truth. “It’s not a big deal, I have to choose my battles, I’m just going to let it go because I don’t want more problems,” are the excuses we make. Each time we evade our courage, our soul simply takes that as a message that we aren’t ready or we are still too afraid to live the life that is meant for us – the life we deserve. But when we choose to begin to practice courage through truth, our soul leaps with excitement for it knows that the path to an authentic life has been exposed. The fear is still there sometimes, but the process is not about not feeling fear; it is about knowing that my truth is much more powerful than my fear.
Satyagraha was a term I first learned at a Gandhi institute I attended a few years ago. It is a Sanskrit word that is connected to the idea of insistence on truth, or what Gandhi referred to as soul force. When I first studied the principal of Satyagraha, I did so within the context of Gandhi’s search for justice and dignity through non-violent resistance. He referred to it as the force that is born from truth and love. Many years later, I have made a more profound connection to this word. Satyagraha is not just about the insistence of truth for external forces of oppression and violence, but also for oneself. I spent so much time looking for truth outside of me, when all along, it was my own truth I needed to become intimately acquainted with.