The gift of speech is so customary to human beings that we fail to appreciate the true magnitude of its power to bless or to harm. Words have incredible power. That power, how we can use it to bless ourselves and others, how we misuse it to hurt ourselves and others, and the thoughtless habits we fall into with regard to it, all offer us an immense resource for cultivating mindfulness.
The bottom line is, we need to be happy. That is our base instinct, our natural goal in life. The simple law of happiness is: We create our happiness in life through our reactions or responses. Mindfulness brings into our life that coveted state of being present to the moment from the plane of higher consciousness and not from the conditioned state of preset mind. We learn to pause; we learn to create a gap between the external demands and our internal responses; we learn to shift consciously from “reaction mode” to our conscious “response mode.”
This pause or space gives us the opportunity to filter our thoughts as they form into spoken words, always having a very deep understanding of what chain reactions could be generated. One of the easiest ways, as shared by the Wise ones of the Eastern mystical traditions, is to allow the words to be filtered with these three steps. 1) Do I need to respond? 2) Is my response true? 3) Is my response kind? Let us explore each of these filters in depth.
Do I need to respond?
This is a very important first step. What are some reasons we speak unconsciously?
In a group, we often derive enjoyment at the cost of others. We talk easily of others’ faults and weaknesses, often simply because we don’t know how else to keep a conversation going. We find endless and myriad ways to put others down — in order to elevate ourselves in our own mind or in the minds of others — all without grasping the damage we are doing to ourselves and to those about whom we speak so harshly.
Without conscious awareness, words can be hurtful. We realize it too late, after the damage is done, when the words cannot be taken back. Then we are haunted by regret, wishing we had not reacted so unmindfully. We want to make amends, but any effort we make to correct our mistake often only makes the situation markedly worse.
Is my response true?
We often forget that our view is distorted. We cannot see anything as it is. We have a pathetically limited frame of reference and often blurt out something that is not true. When we are judgmental, we are like a strainer trying to find fault with a needle. We search for the faults in others while overlooking our own imperfections. In this manner we are not being true to others and at the same time we are not being true to ourselves.
Our judgmental thoughts and untruthful comments create difficult situations. They send negative energies into the world that replicate and multiply their own virulent essence. Ultimately that virulent essence comes back to us. Yes, the lesson is simple; we need to be mindful of any act that hurts others. One day we must pay for all the harm we do.
When we repeat harmful acts, they gradually become second nature to us. Their negative, discordant energies accumulate in our hearts and minds. They store themselves in our bodies, percolating through every cell and molecule of our body, slowly poisoning the system and creating discomfort and disease. They multiply the possibilities for our personal disgrace and for harm to come to us. The law of the Universe is simple, what we give to the universe, the universe gives it back to us!!
Is my response kind?
We are all insensitive from time to time. There are times when we regret something we say. We lash out in anger. We gossip. We fall into teasing without realizing the personal cost to the one on the receiving end of our humor. We can be oblivious to the threshold at which a joke becomes ridicule. We need to take care, when we are speaking, that we are not doing so at the expense of any other human being.
Kind and loving words can bridge all differences. They create the foundations of peace and harmony in all relationships.
There are those who are true gifts to humankind. Their words are charged with positive energies that uplift and strengthen the human heart and soul. We are instantly rejuvenated in their presence. If for some reason they have to criticize, they do so with empathy, using constructive, encouraging and compassionate words. The other person never feels put down.
The world has enough venom. There is a plethora of negatively-minded people in every society. Don’t join the herd. Stand up boldly. Speak in harmony with the path of enlightenment. By respecting others, we respect our self. By uplifting others, we uplift our self.
Give by being a good listener as well. When we learn to listen to the other’s point of view with a non-judgmental mind, we hear beyond words. We feel and see who is speaking behind the words. From that place, the appropriate words come naturally to soothe and heal the wounds of others.
Be a true healer. When our mind is filled with love and compassion, our heart will overflow with the urge to bless and heal others. Then all who meet us will be blessed. The pure mind is a pure blessing for all humankind. Pure mind sees the good, the Divine in everyone. It sees the purity and perfection in everything!
Mindful Practices for Putting these Filters into Action
1. Think about the power of language and the way you personally use it to bless and to harm. Take the vow to bless all and hurt none! Resolve to pause before you speak and mindfully choose your words.
2. Cultivate greater awareness of how you use words. Become attentive to the quality of your speaking. What does it reveal about who you are being in this moment? What does it contribute to others? Where is this conversation coming from, where is it leading, does it carry positive or negative energy?
3. If you find yourself engaged in a negative conversation, remember your commitment to bless rather than harm. If necessary, openly admit you feel uncomfortable with being so negative, and explore with the other person how you both can redirect the conversation.
4. If you find yourself in an angry, accusatory exchange, simply admit that this is not constructive for anyone and take a break. Search your soul for the capacity to accept and understand. Don’t come back to it until you can be compassionate and constructive, until you can bless the other person with what you have to say and hear their side of the issue.
Excerpted in part from My Mind, My Best Friend: 30 Mindful Practices to a Peaceful and Happy Life. Now available on Amazon Kindle.
Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari (Kolkata, India), is a globally acclaimed motivational and spiritual teacher, author, social advocate and peace maker. Founder of Stress Management Academy, his Simple Art of Managing Stress and Course in Mindfulness are known worldwide, inspiring corporate leadership, students and all seekers of peace and happiness to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Author of the internationally acclaimed My Mind, My Best Friend Shuddhaanandaa was the recipient of the Man of Peace Award from the World Organisation for Peace in Mexico, 2012. He is recognized as a visionary social advocate for his development of groundbreaking programs that serve thousands of poverty-stricken individuals in slums of Calcutta, India and remote villages of West Bengal. He founded Lokenath Divine Life Mission in 1985.
Please read his books My MInd, My Best Friend: 30 Mindful Practices for a Peaceful and Happy Life, (Spanish, Mi mente, mi mejor amistad), Cleaning the Mirror of Mind: Clutter Free Home, Clutter Free Life and The Incredible Life of a Himalayan Yogi, all available on Amazon Kindle.
For more information visit http://www.courseinmindfulness.com/