Our lives give us many opportunities for our own "Ruthie" experiences. How are we using our words? How are we letting the words of others effect us? My teacher Aadil, shared with me years ago the concept of filtering your words before you speak them. Is what I am about to say true? In yoga, we call this concept Satya and understand that there is ultimate truth and there is the truth that is relevant to the moment and situation. The next filter asks: Is it kind? The first of the yogic principles (yamas) calls for the practice of Ahimsa. Often translated as non-violence, this word means kindness in our words and actions. Passing these gates, the last question asks: is it necessary? Through the practice of discernment we learn what is merely our opinion and what truly serves ourselves and others in our growth.
Returning from a recent trip, my left arm showed the words pictured above and it was interesting to watch the reactions of others. One memorable conversation started with the question "is it real?" to which I replied that it would wash away in a few days. Relieved, the person launched into a discussion on how harmful tattoos are and how it is so disturbing to see young people get them. Others joined in on the lament and I quickly found myself feeling like I imagine Ruthie felt when her classmates first began to talk. Earlier in the day the words on my arm had either been forgotten about or looked at as a happy reminder of a beautiful week spent with dear friends and their loving encouragement to be my true self. After the conversation, I found myself covering up the words in fear that others would not know the truth and judge me based on their perceptions. Our greatest power is to remember that we are love itself. When we forget that, we have simply fallen asleep and we can choose to feel gratitude for the wake up call.