“I will wash your mouth out with soap.” We have all heard this before. Right? In the good old days it was a popular method of teaching kids to watch what they say. Since then it has gone by the wayside, as it is a bit harsh, but maybe it needs to be revived?
Sauca, Patanjali’s first of five niyamas, found in the yoga sutra, is about being pure. We have talked about the importance of being physically clean, and today it is all about clearing up our verbal communication. THIS IS IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL STUFF. While in Mexico a good friend of mine named Faith said, “Think about how much time we spend carefully examining what we put into our mouths, and yet are totally oblivious to what comes out of it.” For some, this statement might not resonate, but it is a poignant observation to me. Generally, I choose to have healthy people in my life, they inspire me to be a better person, they see the brighter side of myself and push me into fulfilling that role. I’d like to be an inspiration to others as well. Though I practice daily in many areas of life, this is one area I know I sometimes slack on. By becoming better at observing what comes out of my mouth, I can then inspire the people around me to do the same.
When speaking there are two simple rules we can follow in order to ensure we aren’t polluting others with our garble. First, use a verbal filter, and second, learn to be ok with silence.
First, we must put a filter between our brains and our mouths. Our minds are not the most trustworthy tools of communication, at least mine isn’t. I am a believer in “monkey-mind”. My mind is generally a ceaseless rant of thoughts that jump from point to point, aimlessly, and occasionally drawing up powerful emotions, that are only temporary. When theses emotions or thoughts come up and I am freely spewing my “monkey mind” thoughts out into the open, I could potentially cause harm to others, or myself. It is clear to me that something I want to say is in fact “monkey-mind” if it is the first thought that comes into my head. Instead, I can simply pause and evaluate. Here are some helpful questions to answer that will help you know whether it is ok to speak or better to keep quiet.
T: Is it Thoughtful?
H: Is it Honest?
I: Is it Inspiring?
N: Is it Necessary?
K: Is it Kind?
It is a good idea to think about these simple questions before deciding to gossip, even though it is often incredibly easy to make excuses or rationalize for why it is ok. For example, sometimes, people just “deserve” it, according to our monkey minds. Regardless, it is still negative talk and it isn’t good for anyone. Sometimes when talking to a friend about a sensitive issue, we get caught up with our own opinions when really, they don’t need to be shared… So next time you want to open up, simply think, THINK! T: Is it thoughtful? H: Is it honest? I: Is it inspiring? N: Is it necessary? and K: Is it kind? Also, take a look at the following flow chart for more guidance.
Honestly, I most frequently fall short with the the N: is it necessary? Sometimes I babble on and on simply because I hate awkward silences, and now that I am bringing it to attention, even as I type this I wonder… “am I needlessly babbling now“? I hope not, but it is a good question to consider… let us just be aware that silence, is ok.
Being ok with silence is an important quality to have. This is because being true to our own feelings and thoughts means only speaking when we actually want to share something. This may sound silly but it is amazing how often we speak to each other simply to fill empty spaces and avoid awkwardness. Osho says,
“If you don’t feel like talking, don’t— don’t say a single word that isn’t coming to you spontaneously. Don’t be worried if people think you are going crazy. If they think you have become dumb, accept it and enjoy your dumbness! The real trouble is with people who go on talking and don’t know what they are talking about and why. They go on talking because they cannot stop. In the beginning it feels as though you are losing the capacity to communicate, it is not so. In fact people talk to avoid communication. Just wait, and don’t force anything. Don’t be worried about the silence… Once you have gone deeper into silence then your words carry meaning for the first time. Then they are not just empty words, they are full of something of the beyond. They have a poetry to them, a dance.”
All I have to say to that is,— 😉
“Silence is the language of god, all else is poor translation.” Rumy
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Ghandi