Practicing Mindfulness | Living Through the Four Agreements
Maybe you practice yoga three or four times a week, or even every day. When you’re in class with that teacher you can’t get enough of, you feel like you’re on top of the world. You can feel your true Self shining through more and more each day, and your body and mind feel healthier than ever! That feeling is like no other, yet sometimes, once we step off of the mat and back into the real world, that feeling can quickly fade.
Whether it’s an argument with a friend or loved one that pushed you to your limits, or someone cutting you off in traffic causing you to nearly crash, holding your zen can seem impossible in the world we live in. Daily life can test our inner peace, and as yogis we hope to carry that calm essence with us as long as possible. That’s where the The Four Agreements, created by Don Miguel Ruiz come in handy! The book is centered around four simple concepts that can be used as a daily guideline or reference point. When applied mindfully, the agreements magically interweave, and together, can make life and all of our interactions seem a whole lot easier.
1st Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Take a minute to really figure out what it is you mean before you speak. Often times when engaged in a conversation or argument, we speak and start spewing out tons of things that we don’t necessarily mean. We say the first thing that pops into our heads, and sometimes those thoughts aren’t delivered the way we want them to be. Being impeccable means to act without sin, meaning acting against yourself or against what you need to be doing. Being impeccable with your word means speaking with intention, and speaking clearly; getting to the point, and maybe not sugar coating things in a way where the real intention of the message gets lost. When we are impeccable with our words in daily life, it takes the guess work out of things and eliminates questions like, “what did they mean by that?” or “I wonder if they said that because…” This is what creates misperception and can lead to dis ease.
2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
We must learn that the way people treat us usually has nothing to do with anything we have done. It is primarily due to the way they are feeling at that point in time, and what they may be going through. We project onto others what we are experiencing. Noticing when others are merely projecting their own suffering on us gives us the power, and doesn’t let other people’s misery weigh us down.
3rd Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions
We love to assume we know everything and what every person meant when they said that thing about that person…and suddenly we all feel a certain way about that person. Most of the time, when we make assumptions, we are assuming the worst and taking things personally (loop back to agreement #2!) The problem really begins to surface when we treat our assumptions as if they are reality, without any confirmation of the facts. Think about it…when is that last time you spoke to a friend, colleague, or lover and just assumed that they did or didn’t do something without really having solid evidence. We do it every day, and it is part of human nature. We base our assumptions on how people have acted in the past, or how we believe they should be acting. This also relates back to agreement #1 of being impeccable with your word. If we are impeccable with our words, then there is less room for assumptions to be made, because we are speaking clearly and mindfully.
4th Agreement: Always Do Your Best
This agreement may seem the most basic and juvenile in a way, but it’s something that we often forget to live by. Always doing your best is not the same as always beingthe best. Doing your best means taking a situation for what it is, taking yourself for what you are in any given space and time, and truly doing the best job that you can in that moment. When we live this way, we do not have regret, and we stop blaming ourselves when times get tough. Realize what you are capable of, and set goals for yourself along the way. Always remember to be gentle with yourself too, and don’t beat yourself up if today’s best was not as “good” as yesterday’s best.
Hopefully these agreements will lead you to experience a greater sense of peace in times of stress or despair. Keep them in mind throughout your daily life, and hopefully you will find more ease in your life, even once you step off the mat.