The month of November can be a bittersweet time for me. It conjures painful memories of grief and loss; this year was particularly melancholy. Being a northeast resident, we faced back-to-back weather challenges with Hurricane Sandy and then a Nor’easter which dumped nearly ten inches of snow. My office was closed for an entire week due to power outages which oddly didn’t feel like a break from work. Rather, it felt like I was persistently on call waiting to be ordered back to the office. This was my entrance into November this year and I’ve felt off center since.
I’ve been working daily to re-center and re-ground myself and finally, on Friday one of my all-time favorite books brought me back – The Four Agreements, a Toltec Wisdom Book written by Don Miguel Ruiz. The dedication in the book reads “To the Circle of Fire; those who have gone before, those who are present and those yet to come.” These powerful words reminded me those who have crossed over are never gone, it is me who comes and goes. I am always comforted and soothed by this awareness and it was welcome relief from my story of suffering.
Don Miguel describes Toltec knowledge as a way of life which embraces spirit and is distinguished “by the ready accessibility of happiness and love”. His work focuses on the agreements we adopt – most often limiting beliefs that require a great deal of energy and power to create and maintain. When trapped by these agreements, there is little energy left for happiness or equanimity.
If unhappy with our lives, we need to change the agreements. I have worked to clear limiting beliefs and agreement in recent years, and can attest to the power and energy that is released and returned as immense. He warns that a strong will is needed to adopt the Four Agreements and at times, regression can occur. It certainly did for me in November.
The Four Agreements are:
1.Be Impeccable with your Word
2.Don’t Take Anything Personally
3.Don’t Make Assumptions
4.Always Do Your Best
They sound so simple, yet their power cannot be underestimated.
In my next series of blogs I will discuss each of the Four Agreements and the potential for life-changing growth they provide.
The first agreement, Be Impeccable with Your Word requires that we speak with integrity and say what we mean. It’s saying yes only when you mean it and more importantly saying no as a means of saying yes to oneself. The potential power of this agreement can reverse the messages we have internalized throughout our lives: “I’m fat” or “I’m not good at that”. Continuing to honor these distorted messages is using the power of the word against ourselves causing mindless suffering.
Whenever we accept an opinion as truth, we create an agreement and limiting belief. Honoring the first agreement is to foster awareness of our thoughts and behaviors about how we are in the world. It requires enhanced mindfulness and activation of the witness mind – the part of us that can watch the world and its chaos without participation.
Deb Del Vecchio-Scully is a counselor and writer who focuses on healing the mind, body and spirit. She specializes in PTSD, Chronic pain and mood disorders. For more information: www.anschealthandwellness.com