23 Aug Living The Four Agreements: Respecting Self, Respecting Other
Yesterday I was sitting in a coffee shop near my sister’s house in Atlanta, enjoying a cup of green tea as I caught up on emails.
Suddenly I became aware of the intensity of a conversation happening nearby. I couldn’t see who was talking, but if I leaned back and I could have easily touched one of the three people who were sitting at the table behind me.
As their words floated by like a dandelion blown by the wind, I caught puffs of sentences. I soon realized that their point of view and my point of view were two very, very different things.
I watched my mind as a scientist watches an experiment unfolding. First my mind wanted to defend what it knew to be true and make them wrong. Then my mind made an assumption: “If they knew what I believed they would hate me.” That thought sparked a twinge of fear in my emotional body. Then my mind started to tell a story about how the righteous, close-minded views of people like the three in conversation behind me were the cause of so much repression and hatred in the world.
My response to my mind was to giggle and keep working on my emails.
Years ago, hearing these men talk would have put me in a bad mood for days. I would have taken what they said personally, as if it was about me. I would have gone into fight mode. I would have judged them and made them wrong in my head. I would have used the word against them, and in turn against myself.
I would have used their beliefs as a reason to feel angry, frustrated, and defensive.
Now, I use the Four Agreements to unravel my mind’s tendency towards judgment and separation. I work to erase the lines of my mind’s desire for the easy path of black and white thinking. My mind still wants to walk the old paths it is familiar with, but I don’t follow its lead anymore.
As don Miguel says, all of us are in our own dream. We dream our reality through our beliefs and where we choose to put our attention. Living the Four Agreements helps us to release our old beliefs and stay centered in our truth in a calm, present way. From this place we live from our hearts.
Today, I choose to respect everyone’s dream – even if I don’t agree with their beliefs or actions. I respect their right to have opinions and be passionate about what they believe.
Each of us feels passionate about certain things, and I believe we should follow our passions. When we respect our own dream we choose where we want to put our passion. We choose where we want to put our energy. We are warriors of the heart, and we chose our “battles” wisely.
In the coffee shop yesterday, I chose to keep my attention on what I was doing rather than get pulled into trying to change someone else’s opinion, even in my head. And the conversation I overheard inspired me to keep following my passion to support people in respecting the diversity, creativity, and beauty of all human expression.
In my next blog I’ll share what to do when someone else’s dream directly affects yours.
This week: Watch the way you judge other people who dream differently than you do. What would it mean to respect their dream? Where are you not respecting your own dream? Make respect your focus of this week and see what changes in your thinking and interactions with others.
Heather Ash’s apprenticeship with don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, began in 1994, and she now teaches with the Ruiz family. She is the author of The Toltec Path of Transformation and founder of Toci, The Toltec Center of Creative Intent. www.toci.org