”I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and to relieve them of their suffering”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindful Speaking is a skill that can be cultivated in each one of us. We all have much to say, whether its our own internal dialogue or dialogue with another person. The question to ask is: Are we aware or do we pay attention to when, how, and why we speak? Before speaking, can we consider: Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Is it true? These questions can be used for all speech. When I’m talking with my mother, my clients, my friends, partner and even the lady at the grocery store checkout, I have an opportunity to practice asking myself these 3 questions and apply the practice of the following mindful speaking tips. What has deepened my own mindful speaking practice is not only establishing a formal mindful sitting practice to observe my own thoughts, feelings, sensations, and breath, but also during my informal practice and daily activities, remembering to pause in that space between stimulus and response, so that I am grounded in awareness and better able to recall what is most essential and beneficial for mindful communication. I am not a mindful speaker all of the time, nor is it always an easy process, but nevertheless, its a continual process allowing each opportunity of dialogue to be as if its for the first time, without judgment of self or other.
Here are some mindful speaking tips we can use in our daily mindful speech (borrowed from Joseph Goldstein's Mindfulness: A Practical Guided to Awakening; Adapted by Nina Bhatty):
1. Be Clear in the message we want to convey
When we are clear in our thoughts, we are better able to speak the message more clearly. Take a moment (if possible) to allow ourselves to pause before speaking, so we know just what we want to say
2. Speak Slowly
Slow down the speed of our speech so that it does not contain aggression. We don't need to rush along or slow down too much. Keep an attitude to regard words as precious. Appreciate the potency and power of speech
3. Enunciate Clearly
Enunciate; speech is well composed with a beginning, middle and end.
Have some kind of cohesiveness as to how we speak to others so that their mind is not disturbed, or perturbed. Words have power. Speech can be a precious jewel that we give to another person for their benefit, or it can be pollution
4. Be Concise
Simplicity of speech that isn't simple minded communicates more powerfully than elaborate and overly complex sentences and words. We are not on stage. There is a particular art of not excessively vomiting words—being functional, ideal and good. Functional talking at programs is not just to make people quiet, but to bring out the power of words
5. Listen to and Observe Ourself
Listen to oneself without judgment or fixation. Listen to: How we use words, jargon, the slurring, how loud, soft, fast and slow. Notice the impulse to speak and where it comes from, perhaps wanting confirmation from others. Notice also the emotional tone we are feeling and where the correlating sensations may arise in the body
6. Listen to and Observe Others as they receive our speech and when they speak
Listen to the words of others: what does it tell you about who they are; what are they communicating with body, speech, and mind. Listen not only to what they say but what they don't say, how they communicate with body language and emotional tone
7. Use Silence and Pause as a Part of Speech
Regard silence as an important part of speech. Put space around your words. As mind opens to more and more space one begins to appreciate what is communicated by silence, unadorned with words. Silence is not necessarily a sign of cowardice
8. Remember to be Mindful of Breathing in and out as we speak
When we breathe in and out mindfully as we speak, we allow the breath to serve as an anchor as we become grounded in the body and can therefore stay more mindful of our speech, body sensations and emotional tone
Author: Nina Bhatty
Please feel free to share your thoughts or concerns in the comments section below. Let me know if you find the article helpful, challenging or even remotely impossible - in any case, your comments are very helpful to me, as well as anyone else who reads the articles.
"Do we have a Gratitude Attitude" ?
I want to begin by saying, I am thankful for you! in all your flaws, forms, perfections and imperfections and everything in-between, thank you for being YOU!
My hope is that families who come together on Thanksgiving can find a mindful space to notice an Attitude of Gratitude and invite others to not only share some of their personal thanks on this day, but also to remember this Attitude of Gratitude every day.
Simply pausing to notice thoughts and feelings of gratefulness is indeed opportunity for expanding our minds and hearts, however, if we notice when recalling a grateful experience or directly expressing a grateful attitude to another, our hearts and minds expand both inwardly and outwardly; its an empowering experience that connects the feeling and thought to an application of gratefulness! For example, we can write in a gratitude journal about how we feel grateful for an experience we want to recall (in the near or distant future) or we can verbally give thanks when we are served a meal by a friend or family. We can also pause and notice the many sources that are involved in the farm-to-table experience - farmers planting and harvesting crops, transporters loading and delivering to local markets, stockers displaying items in the grocery store, parents drive to and shop for items in the market, cashiers and baggers who sell, scan, exchange items for money and nicely packaged items; It's a process that involves a lot of people and experiences - all who are vastly interconnected.
In addition, if we are grateful for the food we are preparing to eat, when we sit down in our chair at the dining table, we can be mindful of our body sitting for just a few moments - for example, how each part of our body is making contact with the chair and our feet with the ground. How are all our senses engaging with the eating experience - taking a moment to pay attention with our eyes, nose and ears the various foods on our plate-its rich colors and textures and the smells and possibly how it sounds - is it sizzling or crackling? Can we pay attention to how we reach for and pick up our utensils and then how we scoop our food and then bring it to our open mouth and actually feel the texture and taste in our mouth as it lands on the various parts of the mouth before we begin chewing with our teeth. What is the sensation of chewing feel like - is it crunchy, soft, hard? What does it feel like to swallow the food and notice the process as it moves down into our stomach? If we pay attention, just for a moment, we may begin to notice a heightened sensory eating experience; it is quiet amazing!
Can we take a few moments each day to list at least 5 reasons to be grateful?
Here are my 5 Attitudes of Gratitude for today:
1. All my relational connections
2. Clean and Comfortable Shelter & Healthy, Free-Choice Food & Clean, Abundant Water
3. The air I breathe in and out (Mindfully 😊)
4. My healthy body that moves and organizes in ways beyond comprehension
5. My commitment to grow in mind-heart-body ( Mindfully 😊)
"All that has been integrated into Mindful Communication has been known for centuries about consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to maintain a perspective of empathy for ourselves and others, even under trying conditions."
~Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., Founder Center for Non-Violent Communication
One of the most important questions that adults and parents I work with asks is, "how can I better connect with my child or partner?" They add that a lot of the time, there is conflict that begins with communication and that they often feel they are in a monologue with self, rather than a dialogue with the other; there is a breakdown in both listening and speaking, which creates irritation, judgment, blame and often dis-connection. My response is - we have to begin by looking within...and inquire how we are listening. By turning the mental-emotional compass inward, we learn this is where the focus should be. Only then can we begin to have real communication with another.
Mindful Listening in Communication is so deeply powerful and empowering, we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. This week we will focus on Mindful Listening in Communication with another. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others--Mindful Listening helps us discover the depth of our own compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honor universal values and needs, every minute, every day.
Through the practice of Mindful Listening, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others. We will no longer use the language of blame, judgment or domination/control. We can experience the deep pleasure of contributing to each others' well being. Mindful Listening creates a path for healing and reconciliation in its many applications, ranging from intimate relationships, work settings, health card, social services, to governments, schools and social change organizations - just to mention a few.
Here are Some Mindful Listening Tips we can Reflect on and Practice:
Author: Nina Bhatty
If you found this article to be helpful and would like to offer some feedback, feel free to do so in the "comments" section below. Thank you!