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My Experiences With The Four Agreements
Part 1--Learning Impeccability
In recent years, we have seen the arrival of a book that has changed many lives for the better. I am no exception. I cannot remember how or when I got introduced to Don Miguel Ruiz's book "The Four Agreements," but once I read the book, I was hooked.
Like any Seeker, I was on a quest to find some way to change my life for the better, such as getting rid of old habits that don't serve me anymore. Now I know many spiritual paths echo the adage to look within for the answers, and while I agree with that wholeheartedly, I sometimes wonder how people who need healing can look within for the answers when they're not entirely sure what it is they're looking for.
And I'm not talking about just physical healing, I'm also talking about mending those wounds that have appeared in one's soul over a lifetime, or over just a few short years' time. They're the wounds that make us doubt ourselves, doubt who we really are as a person, causing us all to go against our True Selves.
And boy do I have plenty of those sorts of wounds. Some of them I am still working on.
So my experiential journey with the Four Agreements began--and is still continuing. Learning to use the Four Agreements doesn't stop with just memorizing them. You can't help but learn to really live them, and they apply to any one of any faith path, whether mainstream or not.
The Four Agreements--What Are They?
The first Agreement is that of being impeccable with your word. What does that mean, anyway? It goes beyond just plain old "telling the truth." Anyone can choose to tell the truth, and anyone can choose to lie. Anyone can choose to do what they say they will do and anyone can choose to not do what they say they will do.
But what "being impeccable with your word" really means to me is not going against yourself, let alone going against others, especially with words. The Word is SO powerful. That old saw of "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?" Bullcrap. Every single word of that is bullcrap. Anyone who has been bullied with words by peers--or even parents--knows this firsthand.
Say, for instance, you love to sing, and one day you are having a ball singing away with your favorite music. One of your family members comes in all grumpy with a headache and tells you to turn your music off and to quit making such a racket with your singing.
That can't possibly feel good, can it? Especially since singing gives you such joy. But suppose you don't realize that maybe they get headaches that have nothing to do with musical noise. Because you don't realize this, you feel like you made them angry and your singing was the cause of their anger, so you make a silent agreement with yourself not to sing much anymore, or play your music, even if it's your favorite. And then, once the relative is happy and feeling better, they ask you why you don't sing or play music anymore.
What to do? You could do a cop-out and continue to go against yourself and say, "oh, I'm just not interested in music much anymore," in an attempt to keep within your agreement not to make the other person mad--despite the fact that you know that line you just fed the other person is bull-crap.
Or, you could break that negative agreement by choosing to be who you are and saying to that person, "I was playing music one day, and having a good time, and you came in and grumped at me, and I didn't know why, so I assumed you were mad 'cause I was happy and expressing myself."
The family member, if they otherwise love the fact that you're a musical person, regardless of the stress and headaches they experience in their universe, will likely (and hopefully!) say: "I'm sorry you felt that way. I should have told you that I had a headache and I needed quiet for a little while. I never intended to imply you needed to give up your singing. I am not sure why you came to that conclusion, but from now on, I'll be sure and let you know when I need quiet and when I can deal with noise. I love who you are, so you don't need to sacrifice what you love just because I might be grumpy from time to time." That last line right there is probably the most healing thing you ever hear and you feel you can go about your merry musical way.
Also, being impeccable with your word also means not aligning yourself with those who choose to gossip and make slanderous remarks about others. Suppose you're a waitress or cashier in a coffee shop, and you overhear a co-worker make a negative comment about one of the restaurant's customers. You don't know if the remark has any basis in fact, and besides, you wonder what the heck your co-worker is thinking, since this customer is one of your best and favorite people that come in the shop. They leave good tips and they brighten everyone's day.
Suppose the co-worker persists in acting gossipy and slanderous about that customer, and branches into talking bad about other customers for no obviously good reason.
You don't want to go against yourself by leaving the job you love, yet you don't want to align with your gossipy co-worker, which would also be going against what you feel is correct and true. That leaves telling the boss. Unless the boss is just as gossipy as the co-worker. Your personal impeccability, in that extreme case, might very well prompt you to start looking for another place to work.
So what have my experiences been in learning this first Agreement?
Learning to understand and practice this first Agreement in my life has brought me squarely back to what I truly love to do: sing, play music, write(both words and music), deepen my spiritual understanding, and do art. To try to do much of anything else (except perhaps run a business related to that somehow) would be going against myself, would be denying how I most enjoy expressing my experience of being truly Alive, and my heartfelt goal of bringing more peace to the planet.
Coming Up: My Experiences with the Four Agreements, Pt. 2.