Four Agreements to Freedom
We make pacts or agreements with ourselves to improve our life or lifestyle and even our yoga practice. Things like…
- Get ready for bathing suit season. (I call it the season Hell invades earth and there is no other choice but to wear as little clothing as possible, but bathing suit season has a gentler ring to it.)
- Hit that handstand like an Olympic gymnast, or at least the 3rd string sub in.
- Motivate each other, a.k.a. meet up with your friend for class so you can do what you really came to do which is get down at Corner Bakery after class.
- Find the answers to the big questions; “What DOES it all mean?”, “CAN I clear my mind for an hour?” and for the love – “How many licks DOES it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?”
While these are great motivators and agreements to get ourselves to class, these aren’t exactly the Four Agreements I’m talking about. As Don Miguel Ruiz explains in his master piece “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” there are four principal rules of life to live by:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.
Sounds poetically vague and simple right? Yes, and that’s the best part about these four agreements. They are easy to remember, cover a lot of territory and if put into action daily, will in fact guide you to your own personal freedom.
Let’s open these up a little bit. Now, if you are a bullet point reader, as I am often, you may miss this sentence because you got the quick list in bold above and you are good to go and process, so go buy this book! If you stayed with me, below is a quick synopsis of each of these agreements and my reflection on Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements written in the style of “Leanne”.
*cue philisophical clearing of the throat*
Being Impeccable With Your Word.
There is a way to be honest without being offensive. Saying what you mean doesn’t mean hurting anyone. It’s a work in progress but the truth of a situation can exist safely with rational people and those who have experienced conversations with a difference of opinion. Gossip – the silent killer of relationships. It took me some time to get away from the rush of “getting the scoop” but when I stopped being around people who’s favorite hobby was gossiping, suddenly the fear of being judged was gone.
At age 17 I began teaching children. Throughout the first few years I started to understand quickly how the smallest word of encouragement or criticism (technically, not emotionally) was absorbed quicker than a sponge. I remember thinking to myself – “holy moly, that’s a lot of power, speak wisely.” So I started encouraging the black sheep, the quiet ones, the back row Joe’s, and soon enough I had these beautiful, powerful and confident kids who turned to me for anything and everything. I discovered through my words that I was here to push and encourage the less prepared, less experienced, less confident and show them how great they were for every opinion, idea and goal they had and help them reach it. A turn, a tap step, a social decision, an approach to their parent, how to study, prep for auditions, win subtlety and lose graciously. This one thing alone “be impeccable with your word“, is the most powerful part of becoming who I want to be everyday. The effects are long lasting on others and have the ability to change lives.
Don’t take anything personally.
This always makes me think of cat claws, girl fights, and bridesmaids. “It’s not your day, it’s hers..”. This is not only relative to weddings and brunches but every day. It’s not always “our” day. The world does not revolve around just yourself and when people have the expectation that it does, they will be sorely disappointed. Someone’s reactions or words are a reflection on their own reality, not yours. When people flake out on YOU, it’s not about YOU, it’s about some deeper reason inside them, or just chalking it up to a crap day. The point is, I’ve started to realize that being personally offended by the action of others is pretty self-absorbed and allows us to participate in the victim role. “How dare she do that to me – Does he not understand that I – What a waste of my time….”
Keeping an impeccable word and staying accountable for commitments or actions along with a sprinkle of don’t take anything personally, can relieve unnecessary stress, false creations of story lines and save tons of time from obsessing over someone else’s motives or lack there of. I always ask myself when I trip in the lava I can mentally stir up..”is this really a problem? Is it my problem to solve?”, and if the answer to both is no, I call up my friend Elsa who once told the entire nation in one fail swoop to “Let It Go.” So thanks Elsa.
Don’t make assumptions.
Sheesh. This one.
I love to solve the mystery, be prepared for any situation and of course be right when I can. This agreement in itself will make it impossible to create the mystery you are trying to solve, because it’s not real. By following this agreement it will also eliminate wasting time creating imaginary scenarios that can be validated by saying “I’ll be prepared for anything” but in actuality you just lost two nights of sleep over. When trying to be right all the time, you can cluster your mind and convince yourself no matter what creative delusion is now living in your head, not matter how crazy… “I’m right”. Then you are just the sole owner of a false reality. Congratulations.
No one wants to be wrong, but who says everything is a contest or a battle. Being wrong is also objective, if eliminating situations/facts of science or the golden rule. Making assumptions about others, or things, is the act of closing your mind more than it is opening yourself up to the experience of an individual or event. Being judgmental only brings more judgement upon yourself and by assuming the outcome or reactions, the motives or intentions of another, you only create doubt, fear and competition in your own mind. Don’t assume you know the whole story. Don’t assume the motives of others. Don’t assume the actions of others. Here is where I insert that great saying, “Assuming only makes an….”. If you are not familiar with the rest of that statement, Facebook me.
Always do your best.
No, she’s not the most flawless human on the face of the planet, who is – but there is one thing she has always taught me. Don’t do anything half-way. I was 5 when I told my mom I wanted to be a dance teacher and own my own studio. “It doesn’t matter what you are doing”, she said “if you want to be a basket weaver, lawyer, make bubbles, teach or be an astronaut – that’s wonderful – get up everyday and work toward the goals you want to meet because no one else will do it for you. It will work out, or you will find yourself desiring another path, but neither of those options mean you have failed. You want to do it – don’t let me stop you, because I won’t, but don’t stop yourself either.”
I think doing your best does not mean winning anything, it means putting quality time, passion and love into whatever it is you are doing. Learning from every success and hiccup. Not quitting because it’s hard but challenge yourself to level up and handle it. Not stopping ourselves with doubt. Our “best” has different definitions each day, it’s a wide scale but this approach has a sliding scale as well. It’s all about doing the best you can at that moment. Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions and keep your intentions positive. This is doing your best on every scale.
So where was I… oh yeah – read the book! I never thought what looked like a bathroom reader in a guest house would be one of the most shifting reads of my life. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Oh… I get that now.