Opportunity For Honesty- Politics, Satya, and Yoga (Follow-up to Satya Post 1)

This week’s post on Satya (seen here) was really hard to write. I actually had to take a nap in the middle of writing it. Not because I was tired- but because my body put up a defense mechanism: sleepiness in the face of stress!

The fact is that I’m experiencing a problem with honesty in my life. Not that I’m a big horrible liar. But when I’ve identified a truth in my life, I feel that I need to share that, wear that, on the outside of my skin as much as I do on the inside. And when I don’t, I’m uncomfortable.

There’s something big going on that made me feel really hypocritical when writing the Satya post. It’s so big in fact, that you can’t help but hear about it, see it, be inundated with it everywhere you go.

I’m talking about the 2012 Presidential Election.

Have you seen this picture on Facebook?

Do I have to hide from your opinion in order to be your friend?

This is the post that really called me out. Because I completely agree with the sentiment- and in my case, it’s cowardice.

Here’s the truth: I have a strong (Democratic) political opinion. I very much do NOT want a President Romney in the House. I have given money to the Democratic party this year and I’d give more if I could.

But I’m a chicken, because you haven’t heard me say anything about it. There are two reasons, and neither of them are good ones.

The first is that I dislike conflict, and because (I say to myself) I do not feel that I am well-enough educated in the issues and platforms of the parties to intelligently argue my side. This is nonsense.  I am certainly as educated as many of the other folks out there spewing facts. I’ve just wanted to avoid the conversation- it’s much easier to be cozy and comfortable in my quiet little opinion.

The second issue is that I’ve been afraid of alienating people that I love and care for (and who, shockingly, don’t agree with my political views! What an educational month it’s been in that regard). Students. Fellow teachers. Friends. Politically (I’ve rationalized to myself), it’s best that I just remain quiet on the topic unless directly asked. In truth, again, I just don’t want to put us in that uncomfortable position.

So why get my yoga panties in a twist over the whole situation? Why does the concept of truth cause me to hide under the covers? Well, If I’m truly living yoga-  which I aspire to do- then don’t I have a responsibility to shine not only my truth from the inside out, but to actively work to create (what I believe is a) better society for all of us?

I’m fortunate enough to be a member of a society that allows us to choose how the country is run. My vote is as important as any of the other choices I make- and in fact, my vote will determine whether or not I am ABLE to make any of these choices in the next four years.

So yeah, there’s been a hypocrisy to my silence up to this point- maybe I wouldn’t have been saying much of anything, but my reasons for saying nothing have not been aligned with my morals.

Please note that I am not condemning anyone else for keeping their silence, on this or any other topic. We all find ourselves at different places on our journey and the step that is right for me today may not be right for you. This post is simply about my experience.

Do yoga teachers have a responsibility to act politically? Or would you rather not know? If you like, leave a comment below- please keep it respectful- temper your Satya with Ahimsa, please!

9 thoughts on “Opportunity For Honesty- Politics, Satya, and Yoga (Follow-up to Satya Post 1)

  1. WOW, thank you for saying my truths that I too have been silent on (yes, me, silent- YIKES). Now that you’ve spoken for me, I can sleep tonight 😉 Jann

    1. Hi Jann! Sometimes it’s just such a relief to even realize how we feel, isn’t it? Finding your own truth is kind of liberating. Hope we both sleep well tonight! 🙂

  2. Laura,
    Everyone is entitled to their personal opinions regarding any issue however I’ve always found that my religious and pollitical views were best kept to myself unless I was specifically asked about them. Being truthful doesn’t mean that we need to tell all are personal views on every issue. Sometimes when you put yourself out there in an unsolicited way it can cause some unpleasant blowback from people who feel just as stongly and have the polar opposite opinion from yours.
    I certainly don’t believe they should be brought up in a yoga class by a yoga teacher.
    Namaste Gina

    1. Hi Gina! Thanks for taking the time to read and respond, I always appreciate that. I agree that there are many times when views need to be kept to ourselves- especially if they would cause that “himsa” (violence) we’re avoiding with “ahimsa.”

      I also agree with you that a yoga class should have nothing to do with politics- and I’d be extremely uncomfortable if any teacher voiced them during a class!

      What I’m more concerned with, and what I found freeing for myself, was finding that I had been holding back (not in class) but in other places- social media, or conversations with friends- when it would have been an appropriate time to voice an opinion and “live my truth.” In doing so, I felt I was not being true to myself. I find that when I’m not being true to myself it can come across to other people as not being sincere, or that I’m holding something back- which, in fact, I am. I feel much better when I can say (to myself) “This is how I feel, and I’m okay with it.”

      There are people that we meet in our lives that you can sense they are 100% themselves, and I find I value that more and more. When I am talking to or engaged with someone who is holding something back, or not being really themselves, it doesn’t have the same openness. Whether we agree or not on religion, politics, or yoga, the open quality to conversation is the best place for us to forge that human connection.

      Thanks again for reading and writing, and getting me thinking. I always enjoy our discussions. 🙂

      1. I’ve seen it in my own family how things like politics and religion can cause such fractures in relationships. We should all respect each others views. My truth is this:When I was young I was a Democrat,yes I voted for Jimmy Carter. When I began making money I became a Republican. Now, I’m an Independent and don’t believe any politician! There all full of crap IMO. You have every right to voice your opinions if you feel the need to. Just remember you may be like me and look back and say “Why did I vote for Jimmy Carter?”LOL

      2. Oh GIna- so funny! Not the fractured relationships, but the democrat to republican to independent! Yep, I too voted for Jimmy; hmmmmmmmm, I volunteered for the McGovern campaign decades ago…………..politics- same mess it’s been since centuries ago.

  3. Thank you so much for your blog comments, Laura! Tony and I live in a house divided. At times we agree to disagree, sometime our sharing/discussion is “emery-board quality” and like the “elephant in the living room”, we’ll walk around it, under it and pretend it isn’t there. That behavior takes place with some friends, too. At this stage of my life, confrontations take me away from what I have been working at in my yoga practice and philosophies. So, like yourself we take a “better left unsaid” attitude.

    I enjoy a sharing of political opinions, just like I do with the edgy discussions regarding religion…but, I do not appreciate someone trying to convince me differently, no salesperson approach for me…honesty YES, truth, YES.

    The question is: If I believe I have the TRUTH and the Other believes they have the TRUTH…what is the TRUTH?

    If you would like to discuss the above, I’m in (after a class).

    1. Hi Chris!

      You raise such a great point. Honesty vs. truth! I think in most of my post we could replace “Truth” with “honesty” and it would read the same. I am most concerned (for myself) with expressing “my own truth,” by which I mean, being honest and open about what I believe, as much as possible. Most of the time (okay, maybe about half of the time) I am able to remember that what I believe so strongly is “truth” is really just a filtered “belief.”

      I also think that sometimes the “better left unsaid” attitude is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if saying it would cause harm or violence. However, there’s a difference between leaving it unsaid and pretending to agree. I think in my case, my heart knows the difference.

      Love the thought-provoking comments!! And thank you for reading 🙂

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