In the current climate of yoga classes and meditation sessions, being mindful and experiencing mindfulness is a common theme and popular term. That is great news for our human condition and our planet. We all need to be paying attention and we need to be awake to do that. Being awake is our first step to being aware and that leads to paying attention which, in short, is the definition of mindfulness. The capacity we all have as humans to be mindful is one that does not need to be attained through searching, seeking or self exploration. It is simply the will to be attentive to the present moment and to stay awake while we experience our lives. Not to say this is easy but it is simple. We tend to confuse those two concepts. It is simple and it can make a life of difference! We know mindfulness is a state we can bring into any action no matter how mundane. There are no actions or experiences that do not apply.
One of the countless ways we are asked to be mindful is as we communicate. This has a significant impact on our world. Mindful speaking is essentially speaking from our higher self. When we are mindful we pause we reflect and we let our words come from the source of wisdom that is within us. Our inner wisdom where we are one with our heart and therefore coming from a more peaceful, bright and loving source. We are naturally more conscious of what we are saying and we can trust our speech to be 'right speech' instead of careless, thoughtless, hurtful or needless. It is essentially a means by which we practice our yoga in our daily lives. As we know, yoga practice on the mat is only one limb on the eight fold path of the yoga journey. The practice we live is with us at all times and no mat is required to speak with mindfulness.
Speaking with mindfulness is by no means a censoring or blocking of expression but a way to speak with attention toward who and what we are speaking to. Censoring is out of the question, as that is restrictive action and that is not part of yoga. As an artist myself, I am a big fan of free expression and not a fan of restriction.What this is is simply a mindful way to consider the words we use and the statements we make before we throw them out at our fellow human beings. This particular practice asks that we answer three questions before we speak:
Is this true, Is this kind and is this necessary?
Since coming upon this teaching I personally have been testing this out for a couple years. It works! I've tested it on casual chatter, deep conversation and even confrontation. It always guides to 'right speech'... the kind of speech that does not require an apology or steeps the soul in regret. I've tested it on extended family holidays - where the family is extended not the holiday :). It works. I've used it to address politics, current events, religion and all subjects that might be personal to another being. Is this true, Is this kind, Is this necessary...? It is a bit of a balance game. Perfect since yoga is all about that! It is also about being compassionate, loving and kind - perfect again since that is the utmost and primary teaching. It is about truth which is the second Yama on the first limb. The first is Ahimsa do no harm followed by Satya truthfulness.
Quoting from Deborah Adele - "When combining nonviolence with truthfulness we begin to speak our truth without causing harm to others. as partners, truthfulness keeps nonviolence from being a cop-out while nonviolence keeps truthfulness from being a brutal weapon. When they are dancing perfectly together, they create a spectacular sight. Their union is nothing short of profound love in it's fullest expression and when there is cause for disharmony or confusion between the two - truthfulness bows to nonviolence. First and foremost. Do no harm."
After consideration of the truth and the kindness of the words you are about to speak the third question is whether it is necessary. The third is a good question! A lot of the time it just simply is not. This leads to to the teaching of Brahmacharya, non excess. It is the fourth Yama on the first limb. It asks that we stay clear of over indulgence and unneeded fillers, basically clearing some clutter so that we don't loose sight. "Brahmacharya is like this low entrance for us, it reminds us to enter each day and each action with a sense of holiness rather than indulgence..."- Deborah Adele.
So if the balance is tilting into two ways saying yes then speak with care if three ways answer yes then it is a green light but if the yes is outweighed by the no then it is best to honor silence.We know speech can change and inspire us. It can affect us deeply. Being mindful while speaking is just another way we can care for our world and each other. It is as simple as paying attention and staying awake and to me, that sounds just fine - I'm in!