"When one is pretending, the entire body revolts." Anaïs Nin
A new term now describes our current times as a "post-truth" era (a term coined by Ralph Keyes). Not surprising when I heard that "the truth is not the truth" in a CNN interview. Thank you, Rudy Giuliani, for that gem. Indeed, what with "fake news", fake social media accounts, and a daily attack against the facts, what is truth? Where can we find it? How do we know when we have?
As I considered this question, a hard "truth" dawned on me. What we see in our world is a reflection of our inner state. Sure, it's easy to point the finger at others, at international events, politics, corruption, greed, etc... But if we, as individuals, are living in a fractured state, not willing to seek truth, even on a personal level, how can we possibly expect to find it outside ourselves?
We lie to ourselves constantly. "No, I haven't taken on too much." "No, I'm not tired." "I'll just push past this tiny ache. It's nothing." "No, I'm not upset." Sound familiar? As Gandhi famously said: "Be the change that you want to see in the world." We may think the little white lies we tell ourselves don't matter. But they do. Because those untruths start to build up in the body as tension, which is an accurate reflection of the internal dissonance created between our genuine selves and some other version of ourselves that we're more comfortable with.
We will often choose pain over growth, because pain feels familiar and much less frightening. It's like a bad habit we can't break. We know it's no good for us, but we keep doing it anyway because there's a certain comfort in the familiar.
If we can't "be real" with ourselves, how can we expect others to be? Our yoga practice is an ideal space for touching upon those truths we'd rather not see, for acknowledging our wounds and limitations, and moving our bodies in a way that is respectful of how we're really feeling on any given day. Our practice is also an opportunity to turn our attention to our mental landscape, to begin unearthing our conditioned responses, our repetitive thought loops, the stories we tell ourselves that simply aren't true but are merely a reflection of a perception warped by fear.
As long as we ignore our own war on truth, it will continue to elude us. When I look at the current state of our world, it's easy for me to slip into despair. It seems everything has fallen into the hands of rapacious hoodlums, bent on casting doubt on anything that resembles truth, justice and ethical behaviour. If we want truth to reign supreme, as a guiding principle of civil society, we need to start with ourselves.