During yoga teacher training this past weekend, I found myself discussing a topic that often comes up when we begin to chat about the throat chakra . . . WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ASSERTIVE? When I look this word up with a Google Search, this is what I see first, the word FORCEFUL. Does that word effect you the same way it does me? Does some part of you cringe a little or shrink back? Here is the full definition, "having or showing a confident and forceful personality". I can't help but wonder, why this word, FORCEFUL, effects me in such a visceral way. Why does it make me feel so uncomfortable?
Here are some synonyms for you to sit with, like the word forceful, a few of these make me cringe too but some of them whisper to some part of my heart that doesn't want to be hidden anymore.
Believing in oneself
As a young female, I feel like I embodied many of these qualities in my early years. I could whip down a hill standing on the crossbar of my bike, yes you read that correctly, standing. I remember liking myself and liking qualities about myself, my hair, my sense of humour. I enjoyed movement and expression and yes, some of that entailed some fairly loud noise. . . what happens to us, between that time and this one? Why do we change? What are the messages that were communicated to you either directly or indirectly?
While some of the words in the above list, may not be a demeanor that I wish to embrace, such as being an assaultive individual, I can feel some of the other words on the list, brimming to the surface, just itching to be released. I think that for those of us who are raised under a female umbrella, there is often a squelching of our inner fire that occurs, a breaking of our spirits or a message that 'girls', 'women', 'females' are not supposed to exhibit or express anything that can be perceived as aggression. But this is to silence one of our most poignant and important emotions. When we learn to suppress our anger and stuff it down, that energy is left lingering in our bodies and the nature of energy is that it has to go somewhere.
Back to the discussion we had in our teacher training, I found us tying it all together, what it is to struggle in the arena of the throat chakra, to struggle with speaking up, with being heard, with expressing our needs, with saying 'NO'. I so often, learn immensely profound things, and this day is such a beautiful example. 'C' gently shared something that left me speechless and . . . please forgive my adding to her words . . .
When we suppress our natural, innate, human right to feel and express anger, as women, we often move that emotional energy downward in the body and find ourselves expressing our anger is more socially acceptable ways through the realm of the sacral or root chakras. When this occurs, the emotional energy that should be expressed from these places becomes perverse. In the sacral chakra, which is where we are meant to express creativity, our anger becomes passive aggressive and in the root chakra, where we are meant to feel grounded and safe, our anger deflates and we surrender our power entirely. It was this reflection, thank you 'C', that led me to ask, what does it look like when we allow ourselves to acknowledge and express that anger in a healthy way? If stuffing it down leads to a loss of our power and passive aggressive behavior, what does it look like to move that energy upward into the heart? 'C' replied 'ASSERTIVENESS'. Mind blown. Full stop.
I plan to chew on this for some time but there are some things that I will be doing in my own practice that I hope will help you too. I plan to move through this list, word by word and meditate on how each word feels for me. For those words that I want to grow, I intend to meditate and reflect on these qualities and I intend to savour their meaning, to plant these words in my heart, so to speak, to invite their qualities into my practice and my day to day life, to breath these qualities through my body. And for the words, that don't feel so comfortable, I plan to explore these too, to see if there are any latent parts of myself that I can RECLAIM and CONNECT WITH and BIRTH into EXISTENCE.
But I AM NOT, going to just stop there. I refuse to simply meditate on what it might be like to be ASSERTIVE. I am going to step into and own it. I am going to speak up during those times when I don't agree. I am going to ask for what I need and want. I will take action and honour what is on my heart to say and do. This is a good thing to step into. When we can assert ourselves from the heart, from a place of love, we are actually able to practice Ahimsa in its truest form, from a place of loving kindness and compassion and we are able to do so without throwing Satya, our truth, under the proverbial bus.
I hope that you feel inspired to do the same.
Stefani Wilton and Contributors
Finding beauty in the midst of joyous imperfection