Living Don Miguel Ruiz's Five Agreements
"By practicing the Five Agreements, what you are really doing is respecting everything in creation. You are respecting your dream; you are respecting everybody else’s dream. If you use these tools, your effort is really for everyone, because your joy, your happiness, your peace, and your heaven are contagious. When you are happy, the people around you are happy too, and it inspires them to change their own world." - Don Miguel Ruiz
In a bootcamp training with Baron Baptiste several years ago, I was first introduced to Don Miguel Ruiz and his teachings in the book The Voice of Knowledge.
Coincidentally, in a workshop with Kathryn Budig more recently, the Ruiz book entitled The Four Agreements was a prerequisite for our group discussion. I began to see a yogi trend happening with this author and his ideas for everlasting happiness, and I desired to understand the author’s ideas more deeply.
Intrigued by The Four Agreements, I went on to the next book entitled The Fifth Agreement, which aptly titled, includes one more agreement that can lead the way to a higher state of being. The book is an easy read, and the agreements or rules are sincerely applicable and effective. If practiced, the agreements can change your perspective and life in profound ways.
According to Don Miguel Ruiz, everything we do is based on agreements we have made - agreements with the Divine, with the people we interact with, agreements with our lives. However, the most important agreements are the ones we make with ourselves. It is through agreements with ourselves that we determine the story of who we are, how we should behave, what is possible, as well as what is impossible in our lives. I will review the Five Agreements, as well as include some of my favorite quotes from the book. ENJOY!
1. The Story of You: BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
Say only what you mean. To really master being impeccable with your word, you will be required to heighten your awareness not just to the words you say, but also to the emotions you express. This includes your attitude, your actions, and where you express the power of your beliefs. You will need to develop a discipline of mindfulness to be impeccable in these expressions on a daily basis. Avoid using words to speak against yourself, or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love, always.
"If you can see yourself as an artist, and you can see that your life is your own creation, then why not create the most beautiful story for yourself?"
2. Every Mind Is a World: DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
If you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you no longer need to place your trust in what others say or do. Ruiz suggests that we are not responsible for the actions of others; rather, we are only responsible for our own actions and decisions. If we can strengthen our ability to not take things personally, we can no longer be hurt by words or actions of others.
"Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world."
3. Truth or Fiction: DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
This agreement speaks of having the courage to ask questions and to express what it is that we really want. If we can learn to communicate with others as clearly as possible, we will inevitably avoid misunderstandings, hurt and drama. With just this one agreement, Ruiz says we can completely transform our lives. Assume nothing! Like my grand pop said, "When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me."
"If others tell us something we make assumptions, and if they don't tell us something we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know and to replace the need to communicate. Even if we hear something and we don't understand we make assumptions about what it means and then believe the assumptions. We make all sorts of assumptions because we don't have the courage to ask questions."
4. Practice Makes the Master: ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
This agreement relates to realizing that our best is going to change from moment to moment; our best will be different when we are tired as opposed to well rested, etc. Yet, despite any circumstances that we may encounter, if we strive to do our best, we can let go of self-judgment (which leads to self-abuse) and regret.
"Just do your best--in any circumstance in your life. It doesn't matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don't judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment. By always doing your best, you will break a big spell you have been under."
5. The Power of Doubt: BE SKEPTICAL, BUT LEARN TO LISTEN
Don’t believe yourself or anybody else. Use the power of doubt to question everything you hear: Is it really the truth? Listen to the intent behind the words, and you will understand the real message.
"When you learn to listen, you know exactly what other people want. Once you know what they want, what you do with that information is up to you. You can react or not react, you can agree or disagree with what they say, and that depends on what you want."
These agreements slowly help you to reconnect with your authentic and awakened self. With The Fifth Agreement, Ruiz guides us to have complete acceptance of ourselves just as we are. In addition, he teaches us to have complete acceptance of everybody in our lives, just as they are. He suggests that the reward of living with these agreements is eternal happiness. Perhaps try them out, and see what happens!
Lisa Mitchell is an ERYT-500 Yoga-Alliance-certified instructor. Mitchell owns the hot vinyasa yoga studio, Dana Hot Yoga, where she also directs 200-hour yoga teacher trainings. Mitchell completed her doctoral studies in special education and utilizes her knowledge to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder practice yoga. She currently resides in Pennsylvania and when she's not teaching yoga, she serves as an adjunct professor in the graduation education department of St. Joseph's University and is a mother to two daughters.