"It doesn't interest me
if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy."
Excerpt from "The Invitation," byOriah Mountain Dreamer
When having to turn down the requests of another, it is common to think first of the implications for the person you have declined to assist. The guilt we come to carry when faced with having to dole out rejection can often incline us to simply agree to the request. What must happen in such an instance, to then be able to make good on your promise? When the internal response is "no," and the external utterance is "yes," what must we do to ourselves in order to carry out the request?
How comfortable are you with putting this kind of pressure on others? Do you find it easy to make a request, knowing that it might be too great a load for the other person to bear? The majority of us try not to ask favors of those we view as overburdened, but who are we to make judgments as to who is overburdened and who can afford to make the sacrifice we need?
We must not assess or judge others of their competence, ability or available energy and time. We can only make requests as necessary of people whom we trust to stay true to their needs and kindly say "no" when they need to. The reverse is equally true, by being true to yourself and exercising self-discipline, you will gain trust from others when you are strong enough to say "no" to requests you cannot serve, or that do not serve you. Being true to yourself requires strength and a lack of ego that can often grow from a yoga practice.
Take it to the Mat
Sometimes in yoga, in order to learn to trust yourself, you must also be faithless. For instance, imagine you are growing complacent in the execution of your favorite sequence. Perhaps it feels too easy. This is a moment to step away from the instructions on the DVD and find a new challenge in your practice! Consider a sequence such asRevolved Triangle. Instead of using aChest Lift, try deepening yourWarrior IIIby lowering into aNeedle Pose, and then coming back into the Warrior position. How's your focus now? What other ways can you find to intensify your practice?
What if a pose causes more pain than benefit? This is an important moment to trust yourself and be disciplined enough to say "No." Not easy, is it? We WANT to achieve those challenging poses! In this case, being faithless to the sequence means gaining trust in the connection of your mind and body. What can your mind do to accommodate your body? What if we look at a sequence such asLotus Link. What if the Upward Facing Plank is too painful for your wrists and shoulders? You don't have to give up the sequence entirely to say "No." You could try lowering the upper body to the floor from the Diagonal Flat Back position, and then lifting into aFish Pose.
Bring it Off the Mat
When you must say "no" to a request, remember how you tailored your yoga sequence to suit your needs. What part of this request are you saying "no" to? Perhaps it is that you do not have the time to complete the task. Be honest and say that. What if you just do not have the resources to accomplish it? You may find there is a way to modify the request so that you can lend some assistance without gaining more than you can handle. What if the task simply does not serve your purpose? This is when it is most critical to say "no!" In this moment, your faithlessness will provide insight to others as to your personal direction. It is necessary and honest.
When you practice the discipline of "No," you gain strength and trust in yourself, and provide a framework within which others can build their confidence and trust in you as well.