You know when words slip out of your mouth and cause chaos? They cause an argument or some disruption. The words are often spoken without thinking, without consideration. You seem to hear them as if someone else said them. Then afterwards, the turmoil it has caused to yourself and others subsides. And there are no more words, there is just silence.
This has happened to me on no less than four occasions in ten days. Not bad going really. Especially as the words I spoke, didn’t really have meaning to me. They didn’t convey what I was thinking or feeling. They were thought less.
On reflection, they were spoken by a part of myself that was on autopilot. The words belonged to someone else, somewhere else. Maybe a previous version of myself. Or maybe from a programme running like a virus in a computer. The computer being my brain.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Just lately I have found that I haven’t had enough space, enough peace, enough silence. Yes, enough silence! That silence which speaks volumes, speaks the truth and knowing. That silence which whispers gently in your ear that calm reassurance you need to hear.
The more I deepen into my practice, the more I realise that spoken words have less meaning to me. Sometimes they feel like the individual particles of ice pounding down around me in a hailstorm. Some stinging and some dissolving. Amorphous, insignificant. It feels as if I cannot find the words to express my true emotions. It seems like they are in another language I haven’t yet learned.
When I am on auto pilot – acting out behaviours and habits which are merrily causing havoc in my undercurrent, just one word or phrase can knock me into a tailspin. This is when I observe another version of myself wrestling inside me, and out pop the words. Oooh did I say that? Oh dear. I’ve done it again.
Sometimes it happens when I am triggered. When something touches on that deep unhealed thorn inside, maybe planted there many years ago. And sometimes it can happen when I don’t need to hear words. It’s almost like I spit some words out in rebellion to hearing too many words. In one of my early blogs I wrote about the power of words. Maybe it’s a theme for me that has popped up again for me to look at and enquire into.
I have a select few friends I can be silent with. There is a gentle supportive knowing between us in that silence. We’ve talked about it. We can just both be comfortable, still supported by each other in a silent space. Broken every now and again with a gentle current of words which ebb and flow back to silence.
In our mindfulness training we are encouraged to become the observer of the undercurrent of thoughts, images, feelings and stories in our minds. If we can peacefully watch the flow and leave the thoughts alone, we can retain a sense of equanimity to whatever is happening.
If however we start to engage with the thoughts, then trouble starts, stories start and this other version of ourselves can start to run riot.
I have found it’s the same with words. If I am forced to speak it’s likely I will say something wrong. I feel a panic rising inside. If there are too many words, I am likely to adversely react to the words, rather than pause and respond or maybe not respond at all.
How I feel about spoken words and silence is a new insight for me. It has made me realise how daily life practice is so important. It used to be that my formal practice was key to my wellbeing. But now I realise that being mindful in daily life is imperative to my happiness, and probably to those who have to interact with me too.
We can take many measures to find peace and silence. But this may involve travelling to find a peaceful place or trying too hard to find it. So, I realised that I need to find a way to find that silence and peace wherever I am, whatever I am doing. I started to understand what equanimity really means in our training.
As well as recognising the need to be compassionate towards myself for these word mishaps this week, I also realised the need to practice more. I decided to practice ‘Resting in the Midst’ from the Insight training, each day. I then bring the essence of this practice into my daily life. When I notice I am becoming more reactive, I sit back in my body as if I were still sitting in meditation. Then I rest in the silence within, whatever is going on. I rest in the midst of everything.
I’m definitely work in progress, but it highlights the importance of mindfulness training for life. There is always room to be more mindful and more compassionate and create the conditions for insight to arise.
This week I invite you to notice how words affect you. Have you reacted to something someone has said? Have you said something you didn’t mean to say? What happens if you find some silence? Where can you find your silence?
I would love to hear your experiences. Please leave me a comment after this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacky will be co-teaching Level 1 – Being Present with Alan Hughes at Samye Ling 13 – 15 March 2020 and on the Level 2 – Responding with Compassion with Heather Regan-Addis at Samye Ling starting 5-7 June 2020.
We’d love to see you there.
Come Practice With Us.