Tag Archives: poetry

The power of speech

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throat chakra, communication, yoga, meditation, mantra

The words we use, the language and tone of our voices when we communicate with others is so important. We have all at some time in our lives said something we  later regret, whether saying something to hurt in a moment of anger, or being unable to resist the temptation to indulge in some juicy gossip. And the power of those words to cause harm may be so much more than we thought. They can never be taken back. Once the energy of those words is in the world, their damage is done and may continue for many years.

As Robert Browning writes so presciently in ‘A Lover’s Quarrel’, what we say may not necessarily reflect our true feelings, and yet can still cause untold damage:

Not from the heart beneath –
‘ Twas a bubble born of breath
Neither sneer nor vaunt
Nor reproach nor taunt.
See a word, how it severeth!
Oh, power of life and death
In the tongue, as the Preacher saith!

Some of our speech may be empty of true meaning, as empty as a bubble and disconnected from the truth of our hearts.  Our throat chakra, Vishuddhi, is situated between Anahata, the heart chakra, and Ajna, lying in the brain.  When we are focused and centred in our true selves, our speech will reflect the wisdom of both the head and the heart.  Yoga encourages us to adopt right speech, tasting our words before we speak them, assessing whether they are kind, whether they are true, whether they are necessary.  How much of what we say is completely unnecessary?!  The quality of truthfulness, satya, is one of the five yamas of Raja yoga.  This quality is not only about our speech, but also about living our life honestly and decently, in line with our own spiritual values.

I recently came across a prayer to the Divine Mother, in the excellent book Living the Practice: Collected Writings on the Transformative Potential of Yoga by Swami Radhananda, which begins:

May all my speech and idle talk be mantra 

A mantra is a word or phrase which is repeated in yoga and meditation practice and which connects us to our spirit.  The thought of all our speech being mantra is inspiring.  Could we really elevate our every word to the level of mantra, using our speech to connect us with our spirit, and that of those we are talking to, rather than disconnecting as we so often do in our everyday speech?  When we gossip about others, we are creating the illusion of  ‘them and us’, looking for differences between individuals, and creating separation.  When we speak unkindly, when we criticise others, we are using the power of our speech to disconnect from the person we are talking to, rather than building a connection from our heart to theirs.  By consciously improving the quality of our speech, by connecting what comes out of our mouths with our hearts, our minds and our inner spirit, we  begin to live truthfully and to honour the oneness of ourselves with everybody else.

Changing the way we speak can be so hard. Like any habit, gossip or criticism can take a  long time to weed out.  But perhaps a good way to start is to choose just one aspect you’d like to change, from raising your voice to gossiping about a neighbour  or acquaintance you don’t like.  Once we become conscious of the need for change, of how our behaviour is creating separation, both between ourselves and someone else, and between our actions and our true spirit or motivation, we can continue to take small steps in the right direction.  We will at times get it wrong, and revert back to our old ways,  but we keep on trying, until  it  becomes easier and easier.  Until, one day, you notice that you really are more conscious in your interactions with others, that your speech really is like mantra, and totally aligned with your inner values.

 

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A sense of wonder

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Last week I saw a rainbow forming  a perfect arc in the sky.  As I watched it fade, I thought of Blake’s poem which expresses so beautifully the sense of wonder a rainbow inspires in us:

My heart leaps up when I behold 

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The child is Father of the man,

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety. 

~ William Blake

Every time I see a rainbow, I experience this same lifting of the spirits that Blake describes;  a joy and wonder at the beauty of this earth we live in.  We could explain the rainbow scientifically, as so much else in this modern age, but I don’t believe that scientific understanding diminishes the beauty or the splendour of the natural world.  However logically we explain the phenomena of rainbows, clouds, sound, or tides, they remain a marvel, in the true sense of the word.

I recently wrote a post describing the wonder that our children show for the world around them, and how we can learn from them as adults.  This is what Blake touches on here, as he asks that he may never lose his sense of wonder, even as an old man – ‘Or let me die!’.  Let us try to maintain – and even grow – our fascination for the natural world.  Let us find the time to pause and truly notice our surroundings.  Once, when I was attending an intensive training week for a new therapy team,  we all rushed in at the start of the day, except one wonderful therapist, who took just a moment, just one small moment, to stop and breathe in the scent of a flowering shrub by the entrance.  To be fully present in the moment before embarking on another day of lectures and discussion. To notice something which the rest of us had missed in our rush.  So I ask, as Blake did, that I never forget to notice the splendour of our world in the rush of daily life.  That I may pause to take a conscious breath, and to wonder at the little things that make such a difference to our lives.

The rainbow also reminded me of a talk I attended many years ago, when I had recently embarked on my career as a therapist.  The talk was given by an author, Brenda Davies, about her book ‘The Rainbow Journey’, a book about the seven main chakras.  As a new therapist, and having not at that time embarked on my yoga training, my understanding and experience of the chakras at that time was sketchy, and so the talk was utterly fascinating.  Since that time, I have studied the chakras through further reading, and by experiencing ways of working with their energy, both on a personal level and through my yoga and therapy work with clients.  I have written assignments on them and have embarked on a book of my own.  The wonder and fascination of the chakras, our own inner rainbow, will never leave me, and I hope to write more about them in future posts. With every training I have taken over the years, in yoga, in reflexology and in Jin Shin Jyutsu, I have experienced the same excitement and wonder that shows me I am on the right path.  I hope to always listen to that intuition, and to never stop wondering about the world.