True Colors: Cyndi Lauper’s Yogic Inspiration?

Via Clare Polencheck
on Jan 11, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

Lauper’s lyrics inspire, but could they have been inspired by widely celebrated Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda?

But I see your true colors
shining through
I see your true colors
and that’s why I love you
so don’t be afraid to let them show
your true colors
true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow
-True Colors, Cyndi Lauper

In his teachings about meditation, Vivekananda used the now cliché phrase “true colors” concept seriously by comparing the human soul to a crystal.

“To use the simile of the old Indian philosopher: the soul of man is like a piece of crystal, but it takes the color of whatever is near it. Whatever the soul touches … it has to take its color. That is the difficulty. That constitutes the bondage. The color is so strong, the crystal forgets itself and identifies itself with the color.”

Now, Viekananda is using this simile in the context of the inner mind-body-soul connection, but I think it works at the gym or the bar or the mall too.  Have you ever found yourself conforming and changing your colors to the people around you for the sake of fitting in, to the extent of forgetting what you really like or what you are into or who you even are?  Of course, we all have!  It was called high school. We all remember our parent’s warnings about the influence of the “wrong crowd.”

As the lyric goes, “In a world full of people, you can lose sight of it all…”

But as we age we hopefully grow to a certain consciousness of ourselves in social situations.  Socially, a bit of “conforming” is safe and healthy when it comes from a state of awareness.  Social situations present us the opportunity to learn from people around us, to take something for our own experience and to understand another’s. By bending a little bit we can experiment and experience life.

And as we sort through the box of crayons, the question remains—who or what is our true Self?  Maybe we objectify it by what we do, our position at work or in our family, our interests, faith, hobbies.  I’m a yoga instructor, a photographer, a wife, I like to cook, my favorite color is green…  But am I my favorite color?  Is my soul’s essence really a yoga teacher?  That sounds super cool, but on a deep level, I hope not.  And as those “labels” change and evolve through life, does that mean I am losing myself?

Of course not.  “Finding” true Self starts with simply being aware and present, and knowing that it is right there.  The process continues with recognizing and allowing change and adaptation through each juncture of life, but the balance is opening to change mindfully.  In my life, the key word is allowing and the challenge is balance.

For me, it’s been a slow process…I’ve thought for years that searching for “me” has meant keeping within the borders of personal convictions and safe zones, and allowing change in MY time.  What I’m learning is that “my” time is really God’s time and the more I realize that the more I, well, realize.  When I look a sickly yellow (not a good color on me) it’s because I’ve lost the Self “expressions” of balance, awareness, and openness.  But this is my (My?) path and thought I might try new hues, high school is over and I’m not changing my color to attempt to please other selves!  If I keep trying to wear yellow, its my own choice/vice.

Returning to Vivekananda’s crystal comparison…as a crystal, we hold on to Self by radiating through our facets from the inside.  And no matter what color we try on or what shade we are reflecting…no matter what crowd we are in with or what our current favorite hobby might be…with awareness and balance, we can proudly refract all the colors we know, staying aware true to Self and open to new wisdom and experience.

Someone tell me this makes sense to them!  And if not, I’m ok with that, because I’m feeling pretty true right now.  How about you?


About Clare Polencheck

Clare L. Polencheck is a yoga instructor who strives to live and write from a Christian-Yogic spiritual perspective, and is humbled to share tidbits of her lessons as a teacher of asana, a student of her students, and a pupil of Universe. Learning to go with God’s flow is her dharma code.


8 Responses to “True Colors: Cyndi Lauper’s Yogic Inspiration?”

  1. I love that metaphor, Clare. Beautifully written blog.

    Really nice performance video, too. Thanks.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  2. Janice says:

    Clare! Fantastic article. Both you and Cyndi are two incredible inspirations!

  3. […] we forgetthat our happiness doesn’t root from external experiences. We forget that joy is our true Self, the nature we were given at our creation, which is now covered by “stuff” we have to sift […]

  4. […] a collection of his teachings, Pathways to Joy, Swami Vivekananda […]

  5. […] the midst of a Mario memory meditation, I was inspired once again to recognize Yoga in pop culture. As far as I can see, the eight-fold path of Yoga is laid out, […]