Reflections on The Four Agreements

In less than 2 weeks I start a 200 hour Yoga teacher training through Homegrown yoga. Part of the preparatory work included reading several books, completing a couple of essays and journaling. Since I am taking you all with me on my journey I will share my essays and journaling with you. As I grow I hope to encourage someone else to follow their dreams.

The first book we had to read and write an essay over was “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. This was a great read.

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Every word hit home. Most likely because I feel like I am at a crossroads in my life. I have had some recent major upheavals in life that have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities and my expectations of others. My world view is a lot different than it was 6 months ago.

At 44 I am finally discovering who Heather is. For the past 23 years I was known as Trevor’s mom. When he moved away, I went through the whole empty nest depression. It really hurt my feelings when he no longer needed me. My belief was that I had failed as a parent and that my son no longer wanted me in his life.

However, the reality is that he was raised to be independent and is simply creating his own life using the skills that I instilled in him. This is one example how our belief of what is going on is very different from the reality. (Assumptions!!) Do I still wish he would call and visit more? Of course! I miss him but I am also proud that he is trying to make his own way in the world.

There is a song by Hawk Nelson called “Words” that I simply love. The lyrics are powerful…

“They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king
They’ve lifted my heart to places I’ve never been
They’ve dragged me down back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart
Or put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t want to say a word
Unless it points the world back to You”

The first agreement “be impeccable with your word” reminds me of this song. Words are so powerful mainly because we give them that power. Do the words I use build up or destroy? Do my words show who I really feel I am? Do they represent the God fearing and loving person that I strive to be? To be quite honest, a lot of times they don’t.

Especially when I talk to myself! In fact, if I talked to other people the way I talked to myself I would be very lonely indeed. Learning self love is a process that I am working on. Yoga is an instrumental tool in this.

Being impeccable with my word also means to be truthful, kind, and trustworthy. Following through when I make a commitment to someone or to do something.  I try to be a positive person although I admit this is not always the case. One of the things that I am working on is to be a positive force to motivate and inspire people. Mark Twain said that you can tell a lot about someone’s character by the adjectives they use. What do the adjectives I use say about my character? Definitely food for thought. If I was brave, I’d ask the people close me to me.

The second agreement is “don’t take anything personally”.  What? You mean it’s not always about me?? That people aren’t always thinking of how their actions or words affect Heather? This is only partly in jest because I think sometimes I do think that. Recently I was asked what I considered my greatest weakness or area of opportunity to be. The answer to that is simple- I tend to have thin skin and take things personally.  So I love this agreement. I tell my nephew that when people are mean to him, it says more about them than it says about him. This is so true with adults too. When I am hateful to someone because I am angry, it really is more about how I am feeling at the time than it is about what they did.

I need to remind myself that this is true in reverse. Basically I CHOOSE to let my feelings get hurt. Mainly because I assume that the person who offended me intended to do so. This goes right into the third agreement- “don’t make assumptions”.

Ack- Don Miguel Ruiz is writing this book just for me? Because all of these hit home for me. How much time, emotion, and energy is wasted on getting upset over false assumptions?  Communication, open and honest, is the key to maintaining positive and healthy relationships. I am learning to ask questions and to also be clear in what I expect . Communication is a two way street. Most of the conflict that I have had with my friends and family have been due to taking things personally and making assumptions. So much needless drama can be avoided by following these two agreements.

The Fourth Agreement “always do your best” is my mantra. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” is my life verse. When I practice this agreement, amazing things have happened. I have applied this in my running. I was never a fast or even a particularly graceful runner. But what I bring to the sport is heart and tenacity. My best may not be your best. But my best has pushed me to have some incredible adventures that I never thought were possible. From marathons to ultramarathons. From obstacle course races to a 16 hour endurance race. From training for my first powerlifting competition to preparing for 200 hour Yoga teacher training. Putting the work in to do my best has given me great joy.

I am striving to apply this agreement to other areas of my life as well. My hardest thing is to balance doing my best with the need to be seen as “perfect”. Which I am most definitely not.  Since reading this book I have taken these agreements to heart and am being intentional in applying these to all I do. It will take some practice but I can only imagine the freedom I will feel if I truly break my old agreements and start living these four agreements.

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