People talk about “living your truth.” What does this mean exactly? How do we know what “our truth” even is? I think what most people mean by the phrase “living your truth” is the idea of living an authentic life. This means different things to different people, but overall I would say living with integrity, honesty, and making a genuine attempt to be in true connection with yourself, other people, and the Divine is a good general place to start when thinking about this concept. It sounds a lot like what I call Spiritual Integration.
Word choice is important. I talk about it a little bit at the beginning of my book. So let’s start there. I prefer the phrase living IN your truth instead of living your truth. To me, living in our truth implies that we are grounded. Spiritually that means that we are connected to our physical body and to the earth. We are energetically anchored in the body and our immediate energetic fields, dealing with life head on rather than escaping reality through distracting behaviors or substances. We are present.
Being in a fully present state allows us to meet the world as it is without letting the ego get too much in the way of our perceptions. We are all human. We all get triggered. What does this mean? Think of a time when someone you cared about said something that really bothered you. Sometimes we refer to this as “pushing someone’s buttons.”
There are many aspects to living in truth. In the next part of this series I will focus on speaking your truth and what exactly that entails when you are living an integrated life. But before we can talk about the response, we must pause and figure out how to access response rather than reaction.
Right now we are in the midst of a great change in our world and our society. We have been forced to distance ourselves from our coworkers, acquaintances, friends, and extended families, all while spending much more time with our immediate families, roommates, and anyone else we may live with. No one knows how to push our buttons quite like those in our closest circle! This is challenging, but it is also an invitation to grow and evolve spiritually. When we can move out of a triggered state into a state of presence, we access a neutral mind and an open heart, and we can learn to respond rather than react.
We are always at risk of getting triggered, but we are especially prone to it when someone is pushing our buttons. We may react to them in a programmed way based on past incidents: we may have a flare-up of intense emotions that are triggered not only by the current situation, but by similar situations that have occurred throughout life. When we are in a triggered state we are no longer present. We lose the ability to choose our behaviors, rather we react (usually with intense emotion) without knowing exactly why we are so upset.
The first step to getting out of a triggered state is to recognize that we've been triggered. This can be difficult in the heat of the moment. It's definitely a learned skill, but like any skill it improves with practice. I like to pay attention to my emotions. If I am having a much stronger emotion than the situation might call for rationally I begin to wonder if I've been triggered. Someone might make an innocent comment (or sometimes it's a pointed remark intended to get a reaction), and suddenly I feel myself fly into a rage or maybe I feel it in my body as though someone just punched me in the chest or stomach. This intense reaction is a clue that I've been triggered. I discussed this type of reaction briefly in my post about minimalism.
One important thing to note here is that when someone is pushing your buttons, whether consciously or not, they are looking for a reaction from you. They are expecting that you will react as you have many times before, and the best way to break this cycle is to allow yourself to access that neutral state of response rather than reaction. But how do we get there when our ego mind is pushing us for the knee jerk reaction we've given into so many times before?
Generally the first step in any energetic practice is awareness. Recognizing that we've been triggered is our opportunity to come back into the present through awareness. The next step is to become more present through conscious breathing. Taking a few deep, belly breaths can be enough to actually transform our experience and interrupt the reaction cycle, but at the very least it buys us a little time to further shift into response mode.
And responding is what we're aiming for here rather than reacting. Reacting is unconscious, built on the very emotional baggage and patterns we are trying to step out of through this practice. Responding implies thoughtful, considered presence. It is a choice. Rather than letting ourselves react without thinking, we take the time to recognize we've been triggered and to breathe deeply in order to come back into the present moment. Then we can make a choice about how to respond. We can choose to come out of the small mind of the ego and into the larger, loving presence of our Divine nature.
This is living in truth. We all make mistakes, and we all have that little ego voice inside our minds telling us that it's important to WIN, to BE RIGHT. Despite this, we can choose to continually improve, to evolve toward living more in our Divine nature than in our ego mind. We acknowledge to ourselves and to other people (when appropriate) that we have been triggered and do our best to step back into Divine flow.
This work is not easy. It is difficult to really look at ourselves and our motivations, especially when we are in an emotionally charged situation. It takes courage to be vulnerable and admit that we are reacting based on years of programming, that we aren't truly in control of our reactions much of the time. Shining a light into the darkness within can be scarier than confronting a physical fear or phobia, but even that darkness is Divine. There is nothing that is not pure energy at its core, and all energy is ultimately the unconditional love that is God. When we confront our darkness, we have the opportunity to bring compassion and love back into the parts of ourselves we have abandoned out of fear.
Living in truth is about bringing Spiritual Integration into our daily lives and relationships. It's about honestly looking at what drives us, even when we don't really want to. This unflinching honesty allows us to see our interactions more clearly. We do the spiritual work that allows us to recognize our triggers, which gives us the opportunity to release the energetic patterns in us that created those triggers. As we evolve we have the ability to bring more awareness into our interactions, both with ourselves and with others. We become more loving and compassionate toward ourselves, which always spills over into more love and compassion for those around us.