In the rooms of recovery we give out chips, or medallions, for milestones in recovery. On the traditional original medallions for one program we have mottos on the front and back. One side has the Serenity Prayer, the other side reads: “To Thine Own Self Be True.” Sounds good. Sounds straightforward and simple. Simple, however, does not mean easy. Who IS this self to whom I should remain true? Certainly when I started my path of recovery I did not know who I was. I hadn’t known for years. In fact, in my case, my disease obliterated any progress I was making in this quest, this search to figure that out. I was a chameleon – blending in with my surroundings and what I thought others wanted from me. I tried to fill their expectation (ironically, without asking for their input). I changed my outlook and opinion to suit the circumstances. Later, in defiance and defense, I diluted and fogged the journey for self discovery with substances and behaviors. True self was no where to be found.
Then I started my journey in recovery. Once the fog lifted, and I was able to earn some of these medallions on my own, I read and puzzled over this motto. I know it was true but I was perplexed. This imperative, to be true to one’s self, becomes more critical as the days pass in recovery. The steps helped in uncovering my true nature, revealing more and more about how I processed life, what was healthy and what was unhealthy in my views, my understanding and my responses. The rooms of recovery, friends and sponsors assisted in this as well. Even with these tools, I was still unmoored, not sure of who I was, uncertain about my direction.
Yoga, the practice and study, and the insights on the mat have increased my knowledge of my self, my true self. I have observed my reactions to my practice and learned from these. I have become more aware of my felt sense, my body cues and sensations, and have learned to trust these. My breath, the sensations in my chest and gut, those physical clues one can get from any situation, are to be trusted. They are tendrils from my self trying to guide me. I am learning to be true to these. The combination of the intellectual / emotion work with the steps and the physical, psychic, emotional and intellectual work of yoga are giving me a solid sense of who I am, of self, and I can practice this principle: “To Thine Own Self Be True.”