When it comes to mindfulness practice, mindfulness of speech is very important. Words are powerful and can be beneficial or deleterious.
Recently I received a call from my GP, after an X-ray, informing me that I had a collapsed lung. Well, you can guess where my imagination went to on hearing the word collapsed. I was then informed by another GP that it was not as sinister as my mind had conjured up.
This is where through mindfulness practice we awaken to mindfulness of speech. Rather than blabbering out speech we are able to, THINK, THINK, THINK, as they say in the Twelve Step programme.
THINK: Is what I’m saying true?
THINK: Does what I’m saying, need to be said right now?
THINK: Is what I’m saying simply gossip?
For me it’s important that what I say is uplifting to the listener so that what I say will add to their life not take from it. That’s all external communication, but let's focus also on our internal dialogue — how we talk to ourselves. At times, we can all be our own worst enemy. Our internal dialogue can be hostile towards ourselves. This is where practising mindfulness comes in and enables us to transform this unhealthy speech to a kinder, softer, gentler, more compassionate self-talk.
I would suggest that we all begin that story now with ourselves. I predict you will be amazed how life will become lighter and brighter. We need to begin with forgiveness. This is a powerful tool which can free us from the thoughts and fears that are imprisoning us. Forgiveness can release us from that which is holding us back from living our precious lives and enjoying this precious life. Remember: This is an inside job and if you don’t go within, you go without.
The practice of mindfulness speech in Buddhism is called metta, also described as loving kindness meditation. When it comes to meditation, my advice to folk would be to begin with loving kindness meditation. Our good friends in Stanford University are discovering now what the the Buddhists have always known: that metta is beneficial to our personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet. They also emphasise the need for this to be a foundation practice on our path of recovery.
Once upon a time, a king decided to go on a long journey. When he came back, he found his feet swollen and began to feel huge pain. After his trek, the king ordered his men to cover the whole of the earth with leather to protect his feet. One of his soldiers suggested an intelligent idea that left the king amazed. The soldier said, "Your highness, I have another idea. What would you think about making shoes from leather for your feet?"
I love that story as it reminds me to take baby steps in my loving kindness practice. Being able to drip-feed myself with softness, kindness, and above all to be compassionate with myself on my journey of recovery.
I recommend that you begin this practice as soon as you can and remember there’s no time like the present. The Dalai Lama tells us that there is always time to practice metta, loving kindness, and that the best time to practice is when we think that we don’t have the time. He says: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” So no excuses when it comes to being kind to ourselves and to others.
Unstoppable they called her but I saw her stop
I saw her stop many times.
Sometimes I thought she was stopped for good
but no she always found a way to resurrect,
Not the same, never the same.
Each time a little more determined and a little less vulnerable.
Unstoppable they said,
but I think
it was in the stopping
that she found her power.
N.B. I have more scans to get over coming weeks as doctors — in our overstepped and much-appreciated HSC - try to get to the bottom of my health issues. Wish me well!