”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
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