Tag Archives: speech

Talking to Ourselves

Collecting my belongings after the close of one of my evening yoga classes, an adult student approaches me.

“Do you know what has helped me more than anything in your teachings?” she asks in a forthright manner.

“No,” I respond quietly, looking up from collecting my things.

“Your teaching about compassion toward the body—encouraging, coaxing, inviting and allowing the body to open in its own time,” she answers. I see her holding the removable brace her left hand requires. The brace reminds her not to overdo anything during her extended recuperation after tendon surgery.

Spirituality

She, like me, is a doer. She, like me, is a relatively impatient personality. I empathize with the extra frustration she has exhibited in class as she works through her relatively long period of convalescence. Yet, with her standing next to me, I notice the manner in which I have silently girded myself against what might be coming, because she is also a student capable of delivering swift, verbal feedback in real-time, without the blessing of any gentle or mercifully wordy cushioning preamble. And, even as she exhibits this trait, I—regrettably—see much of myself in her. The Mirror is always speaking.

Extending her hand toward me, she continues, “Look. I have been talking to my finger.” The digit, where the tendon has been reattached, is now level with my eyes. “Do you remember that one mental exercise you have us do in class where, when we are in a yoga posture, we first address the body with internal dialogue using harsh words and then switch to using encouraging internal speech?”

“Yes,” I nod in reply. Her hand is still poised before my eyes.

“Well, I have been using that mental exercise with my finger,” she proceeds. “Come on, finger. You can do it! I need you to curl forward. Now, straighten up! There you go. I know you can do this.”

I watch as her finger, in one slow shaky motion, moves through its paces. The human body is nothing short of a miracle. Our will, when properly placed, is yet another grace in action.

“That is amazing,” I murmur.

“Yes! It would not have been possible even a year ago. You gave me the mental approach I needed for the exercises prescribed by my physical therapist. I am told by the hospital staff that my finger is healing twice as fast when compared to the healing rates of most people who have had such a surgery.”

This is that for which I must give thanks.

Spirituality & Non-truths

Last night, a restaurant owner told me a non-truth.

“So what?” you might ask.

Spirituality

I made an inquiry about the evening’s menu offerings and was told that there was an issue with vegetable availability. I knew this was a non-truth because the restauranteur’s energetic field went from being its natural, shiny and luminescent self to a dull and deeply non-luminescent haze. The observation of this radical, spiritual shift was painful for me to observe, as I had come to trust this individual to speak truthfully with me.

Internally, I countered with the questions, “Really?  You have to lie to me about vegetable availability?” (Vegetable availability is generally a non-issue in the US restaurant industry, unless an establishment is committed to serving locally-sourced, fresh produce.)

Non-truths, when wittingly thought, held, spoken or acted upon, cause Spirit to become damaged or injured.  Even simple, so-called, “white” lies, such as this non-truth would qualify to be labelled, are injurious to the person speaking them and disrespectful of the inner Light abiding in would-be hearers.

Truths, non-truths and attempting to understand what the Truth might be are things with which all of us struggle—because it is often difficult for us to sort through and articulate our very personal, internal emotional experiences about the world, as well as our being habituated to living the bulk of our time quite separate from the inner sanctum of the heart, where ultimate Reality or pure Spirit resides.

When I first became aware of how critical connecting myself to my perception of my current, working Truth was, I ended up choosing to move into silence.

At the time that I moved into silence, I felt there were almost no words or perceptions that I could safely state without bumping up against some form of non-truth.  Then, I entered a phase where I qualified my verbal observations with clauses such as, “My current perception of the situation is…,” “It may be that…,”  or “It seems to me, at this time, as though….”  My hope was that by couching my observations amid these qualifiers, I could remain open to questions about what the “Truth” was, is, or might be, as well as avoiding further damage to my inner Light.

What I have learned is this:  Words and the manner in which they are used are—potentially—powerful tools and shapers of our experiential reality.  In most cases, I have found it is better to check my perception of “Reality,” with two key questions, “What is going on here?”  and “How, if at all, am I to be involved in this situation or with this/these person/people?”

Silence has become a dear friend and a critical place of refuge, because, more often than not, we are operating, drawing conclusions, making decisions and engaging in concrete actions based upon incomplete, inaccurate or out-right false narratives. Still, there are times when we must speak and act in order to better learn about a situation, place, person, time and to discern the extent to which we should or should not become actively involved in a set of circumstances.

Thus, the next time a group of words leaves your mouth, consider the manner in which you are sharing your personal observations or current, working truth and how you might retool your word choices or what you choose to share, so that you are speaking, as accurately as possible, about your perception regarding the Truth of a situation.  It is one of the best ways to honor Spirit.

Spirituality & Speech

As a child, I was introduced to a fairytale, based upon a story most probably from the Brothers Grimm, in which a beautiful young woman—with a true and kind heart—was required to attend to the chores for her entire household.

Spirituality

This girl, like Cinderella, lives in her birth home, but exists under the “tyrannical rule” of her selfish stepmother and two uncharitable and insincere stepsisters, due to her parents’ premature deaths.

As the story goes, our unfortunate heroine is at the well one day fetching water for the household, when an elderly, beggar woman asks her for a drink of water.  The girl obliges.  And, because of the girl’s kindess, the beggar woman grants her an unusual gift.  Each time the girl opens her mouth to speak, she produces diamonds, fresh rose buds and small trinkets of gold.

Now, when the girl’s stepmother finds out what has happened, she commands her own two daughters to take charge of fetching the water, requiring that they serve the beggar woman when she returns, in the hope that they too might receive such a gift.

A week passes, without the beggar woman returning. Then, on the seventh day, a young boy walking with a limp and the aid of a staff approaches the sisters, asking for a drink of water.

One sister, throws the dipper at the lad, telling him that he should fetch the water for himself, while the other sister turns her back on the boy in earnest disgust.  Upon returning home, the two sisters begin to speak, learning that they too have been granted a gift in honor of their behavior.

Each stepsister, when she speaks, gasps in horror as small snakes, tiny toads and prickly burrs come from her mouth.  It is said that the two sisters go screaming into the woods, never to be seen or heard from again.

Tibetan Buddhism puts forth four out of seven “commandments” concerning speech: No lying; No harsh speech; No divisive speech; No meaningless speech.  (The remaining three “commandments” are as follows: No killing; No stealing; No sexual misconduct.)  In Christianity, Jesus is said to have counseled his followers to say only, “yes” or “no,” unless guided to speak further on a topic with a clear statement and wording granted by the Holy Spirit.

Yet, despite the many guidelines and helpful recommendations from a variety of traditions, authentic and constructive speech remains one of the most difficult of traits to cultivate and maintain–even as a seeker works diligently to purify the heart. My experiental sense is that we have all spent some time in the woods for our inappropriate use of speech or that maybe–culturally–we should.