Mark Nepo in his book ‘The Book of Awakening’ wrote a passage on integrity. This book holds a passage for every day of the year. He started with a quote from Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man and then expands:
Integrity is the ability to listen to a place inside oneself that doesn’t change, even though the life that carries it may change.”-Rabbi Omer-Man
Much of our journey throughout this book has been about discovering that place inside and cultivating the ability to listen to it, while having compassion for the life that carries it.
It moves me to share the story of a troubled man who, exhausted from his suffering and confusion, asked a sage for help. The sage looked deeply into the troubled man and with compassion offered him a choice: “You may have either a map or a boat.”
After looking at the many pilgrims about him, all of whom seemed equally troubled, the confused man said, “I’ll take the boat.”
The sage kissed him on the forehead and said, “go then. You are the boat. Life is to sea.”
As we have discovered so many times, we have everything we need within us. This ability to listen inside is our oldest oar. You are the boat.”-Mark Nepo
I truly appreciate his little meditation that he offers after this passage that invites us to sit quietly, put down all our maps for the moment, and to let our breath take us safely out to sea. Then to just breathe gently, bob there and listen.
What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of expectation and future envisioning?
What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of regret and questioning of the past?
What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of design for your hopes and dreams, and just listen?
What if, for a moment, you put down all of your maps of struggle to get out of stuckness, and just listen?
You might wonder what you’re listening to? It’s that place that the Rabbi was speaking to, that place that is unchanging; it is the place of your heart. It is That place that lives and breathes within you that is pure and good. It is that place within you that is whole, divine, and infinite. It is that place within your physical heart that is, at best, indescribable.
And yet, when we do listen, we can hear the soft whispers of our soul.
When we do listen, we can hear the voice of wisdom and knowledge that tells us we do in fact have everything we need within us.
I think this is why the man chose the boat. Something in him knew, perhaps beyond the shadow of a doubt, that all he needed was the mode of transportation to get out of the place of suffering. He knew he could find the way, he just needed to take action on the path of alignment. Something within him knew that if he just listened deeply to his heart and to his knowing that he would find his way out of his confusion. He chose to listen! He put the ‘oar’ in the sea of life.
This is why the Sage and Mark Nepo describe this action of listening and aligning with that unchanging place that lives within our heart as the oldest oar. It is the listening that is synonymous to placing an oar in the water and moving the boat forward.
Listening and aligning to that place in our heart that is unchanging within our changing world of our own psyche and our external environments is what moves us out of our own suffering.
When we get quiet, that place within our heart speaks to us. It is up to us to be dedicated to the place of the heart and to listen to it. To offer ourselves our own devotion to that sacred place within.
I imagine this is why the Sage is still in this place where all these ‘troubled’ pilgrims are. That the sage knows that no matter where he lives, no matter his physical external environment, he has this place within himself that is True Home. This place within his own heart that he has the practices and tools to realign with time and time again. And in aligning, he experiences such peace, rest and ease that nothing troubles him, not even his own thoughts.
Martha Beck states that “what upsets people is not what happens to them, but their thoughts about what happens.” Hmmm, I invite you to ponder this one for a while.
Integrity by definition is:
-The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles
-The state of being whole and undivided
In her book, ‘The Way of Integrity’, Martha Beck describes integrity as “a way of being in harmony with oneself.”
Yoga teaches us that we are whole and complete as we are. Purna, “whole, full.”
How do you get in integrity?
How do you remember that you are already in integrity?
What are your practices of listening to that place inside yourself that is unchanging?
This next, and last, question is one where I find most challenging living as a human being on planned earth…
How do you uphold your own integrity when making decisions?
And yet even as I write that, it seems almost ridiculous. It’s not difficult to uphold our own integrity when making decisions when we ARE making those decisions from the place of wholeness and from the place of the heart. But here’s where I offer myself, and I offer you dear reader, compassion for us, as we are the vessels that hold this unchanging place within us.
Oprah said, “Good riddance to decisions that don’t support self-value, self-care, and self-support.”
I invite you this week to make a decision from the unchanging place within yourself. If you’ve ever signed up for my newsletter you received a PDF of my top 10 ways of how to live a more aligned life. So, become aligned. Yoga holds many practices of how to connect with that place within our heart.
Come to any of my classes! And be on the lookout for offerings coming this year that will support you in embodying this place within your heart, connecting to it, listening to it, and living your life in alignment with it. Because you are That! Celebrate That within you!
“There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.” -Robert Brault
All my love,
Breathe and Believe.