While leading AIM sangha’s group discussion, I was very moved by people’s sharing about their difficulties with practicing Mindful or Wise Speech. Their sharing (some of which I will include below) illuminated our mutual challenges as human beings. After all, we have all felt great fear, frustration, disappointment, joy, excitement, and sadness at some points in our lives. The goal is not to AVOID feeling negative emotions, but to learn how to work with even difficult emotional states with growing skill and compassion. Then, to communicate with others from a place of love and caring.
One woman shared that the worst mind habit pattern she has to deal with is how she speaks to herself. She confided in how she has bought into a “Big Lie” that she is just not capable of handling whatever life task or situation that lies before her. Since she has had many life successes, she intellectually realizes that this isn’t true, but even still, she spoke about how difficult it is for her to let go of this self-deprecating belief. Luckily, she feels that she has made progress in simply being compassionate with herself, while she continues to figure out how to let go of this limiting belief. This brought up the question, which is: “how do you speak to yourself?” I’ve heard people say that I would never speak to another the way I speak inwardly to myself. When we strengthen our mindfulness practice, we start to hear our self-talk. What’s really freeing is when we take the leap of understanding that we do NOT have to believe or buy into the oftentimes inane chattering of our minds.
Another young man spoke about how much fear comes up for him around speaking honestly, because it requires a certain level of naked vulnerability. Let’s face it, being honest can be downright scary! Which brings up the question: “how might you be holding back out of fear of being vulnerable? How might you be hiding, lying to yourself or others out of fear, or to be accepted, liked, or to gain something?” Please ask yourself these questions from a place of curious inquiry, and not use them as one more opportunity to beat yourself up.
My personal practice and the work I do with my clients, includes teaching others to allow their inner wisdom to guide their interactions with others, which includes the wisdom to know when, if, and what to speak up about. Initially, it takes courage to allow your inner wisdom to be your guide. But, with continued practice, it becomes as natural as breathing.
More to come about Mindful Speech!!!