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I listen for the tone of truth as a spiritual practice.
Would you like to increase your truth and personal integrity? Consider this quote from the Baha’i writings:
Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness progress and success, in all the worlds of God, are impossible for any soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also be acquired. – Abdu’l-Baha, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 26.
Here’s a simple way I use to think about my own truthfulness, trustworthiness and integrity: say what you mean, and mean what you say.
When you mean what you say you begin to create a bank of trust within yourself, with others, and with God. When trust is intact, integrity is present, and integrity is one of the key elements to creating ease, efficacy, and flow in any relationship in life. Being truthful and trustworthy may sound simple, and at the same time how often do you say things you don’t mean, and then don’t do? Do you plan to go to the gym three times a week and then sleep in? Do you overcommit, or agree when you really disagree, and on and on?
In everyday life multiple conversations happen on autopilot. We blurt out habitual, socially acceptable responses instead of pausing to consider and truthfully reply. The simple question “How are you?” in a truthful world could be answered quite differently than the standard, ‘I’m fine.” Just think of the meaningful conversations honest answers might create.
Truthfulness didn’t seem so nuanced to me the first time I considered it… until I started to listen to myself. I soon noticed how often I didn’t really mean what I was saying, in many conversations all day long. The more attention I pay to this, the less idle talk I find myself engaging in. Now I speak less, with more meaning, which makes me feel confident and content. I know it helps the people around me, too.
Think about this beautiful twist of spiritual principles at play in this material world: what is good to do is good for you. Being trustworthy, then, can become a transformative spiritual practice that will create noticeable change in your ability to accomplish goals, have fulfilling relationships, and develop a professional reputation, let alone enhance your inner well-being. This quote from the Baha’i teachings says it beautifully:
Trustworthiness is the greatest portal leading unto the tranquility and security of the people. In truth the stability of every affair hath depended and doth depend upon it. All the domains of power, of grandeur and of wealth are illumined by its light. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 37.
In bodywork and wellness, we refer to truth as congruency—where facial expression, tone, words, and body language all match in a congruent way. When a high degree of congruency is present, our nervous system feels safe, and we relax in every way: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Being trustworthy on all levels within ourselves (body, mind, spirit) is a daily practice, and the better you become at it, the more ease and tranquility you will have—not only in your body and mind, but also in every area of your life. In general, humans are biologically built to relax and gravitate towards trustworthy people; what a gift to become that secure and stable space for yourself and others.
Keep in mind that trust and congruence include your tone and your body language, too. As a massage therapist, I notice how often a person says they can take more pressure, while their body is actually saying please back off. As a yoga teacher, I notice how often a person reaches further for a pose, when their legs are trembling and alignment is out. As a coach, I notice how often people say yes when their tone says… not yet. Trustworthiness then, is something to first cultivate within your own being, learning to listen to your body sensations, the tone of your voice, and your word choice, all as indicators or personal tells for truth.
As you increase your ability to trust yourself and your word, you will elevate every conversation you participate in—and every moment of your life.