Right Speech

I’m big on what comes out of the mouth. Over the years, I’ve written about and reposted on Right Speech, one of the Buddha’s 8-Fold Path.  I’ve also studied Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication teachings. I think it’s important. So, it was an easy choice for a topic when my new dharma group in Bend asked if I’d lead a discussion. When I arrived in Bend and after checking out the yoga classes, I looked for a meditation group.  ZenBend meets weekly for a dharma talk and discussion followed by meditation. It’s lay-led and they asked if I’d host.  Me?  Well, why not I told myself. My time in Bend seems to be a journey of new adventures, so I replied with a weak  “well, sure” followed by self-effacing caveats about not being worthy. I’m on.  

Because I did some more research, I decided to share it with you.  

The Buddha distinguished 4 types of right speech:

  1. Truthfulness or abstain from false speech.  Do not lie. Do not deceive others.  Lying and deception are slippery slopes.  One lie begets another and another to cover up the first lie. Presenting yourself as other than you are (deception) requires constant grooming to keep the lie alive rather than lose face.  
  2. Harmonious, friendly speech or abstain from slanderous speech.  Do not pass falsities or rumors with the intention of tearing down or dividing others. This often comes in the form of gossip. Unfortunately, our society revels in headlines and speech that is for the purpose of seeking attention, advancing one’s beliefs and putting down others.
  3. Loving, kind words or abstaining from harsh speech.  This includes angry speech intended to cause the other pain, abusive speech, like scolding with bitter words, insulting or hurting words, and sarcasm that causes pain.
  4. Speak what is wise at the right time or abstain from idle chatter.  Idle chatter is kind of garbage talk, that lacks purpose or reason and communicates nothing of value.     

What and how we speak is a choice and it does not start at the lips or larynx.  It starts in the mind. Your thoughts become your words.  So, if you want to become more conscious with your speech you need to start with the ‘ol coconut. How, you ask?  Becoming aware (the “mindful” word if you’d prefer) of the when and why of your words.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1.  Put a brief “pause” between what the mind is thinking and what your mouth is saying.  Is what you’re about to say wise?  Is it the right time and to the right people?  Is it helpful? Does it lead to harmony with your listener and others?  
  2. Watch what you consume. Just like eating, garbage in = garbage out. If you spend your time listening/reading political vitriol, divisive media, and violent tv and movies, you will start to become sour, jaded and unpleasant. What comes in will eventually make it’s way out.
  3. Speak in a manner that is helpful and eases suffering.  If you see someone in distress or that needs some lovin’ you can use your words to show concern, offer comfort and extend kindness.

I know sometimes words unintentionally spill out, like the “foot in mouth” variety. This is often hilarious or embarrassing, depending on your audience. Later, you find yourself saying “I can’t believe I said that”. Inebriation can be the culprit, you know like drunk dialing or crying in your soup about your ex- with a friend on a Saturday night. It’s helpful to remember we’re human.  

Oh, and while you’re at it, what about how you talk to yourself?  Is your self-talk kind, helpful, encouraging, and true?  We often berate ourselves with incessant chatter that is untrue, unkind and down right unnecessary.  Apply the principles of “right speech” to yourself.

So, I hope this has encouraged you to be a bit more aware of what you say and how you say it.  It’s important, especially now.  

Until we meet again, be well and I’m always look forward to hear from you.  

Newsletter 5-27-12

The Scrub Down *

Funny I should find myself buck naked, face down, with a strong Korean woman clad in a conservative, black, 2-piece bathing suit hovering over me. This is in San Francisco, mind you; anything goes and more. It’s noontime on what turns out to be a sunny San Francisco day and I’m at the Imperial Spa getting a scrub, massage and oil treatment. I’m not a big spa goer, which makes some people go “whaaat?”. It’s like cilantro, you either like it or not, however, I do like cilantro, especially when made into pesto. Oh, back to the spa. Pricey as spa treatments are, I like to save my yoga bucks for my overpriced, but wonderful, Clarey Sage yoga tights. Also, I don’t dig people that I don’t know touching my body without a recommendation from someone I trust and even those at times can go awry. This thumbs-up came from yogi-extraordinaire, Ann Austin. If Ann’s doing something, I’m putting it on my list. I would really like to know what brand of Wheaties she eats in the hopes that my pushups can look half as effortless as hers.

The Imperial Spa was not as appointed and zen-like as the Kabuki. I got the requisite slip-on plastic sandles, two towels, my orange trimmed, white robe and my locker key. Along with the hot tub, cold plunge, dry and wet saunas, there were rows of short plastic white stools for sitting and washing and big bowls to fill and rinse yourself. The scrubbing was very “thorough”– backside, frontside, and both side-sides. After the warm oil massage, cucumber mask, scalp massage, I was finished off with warm milk rinse down. Ahhh.

So, besides the babies-butt smooth skin and the opportunity to hang in San Francisco and part with some hard earned dollars at Lava9 in Hayes Valley, body scrubs are actually very therapeutic. Our skin is our largest organ, crazy as it sounds. It’s our main system of elimination. In addition to making it soft and shiny, there are other reasons to shed some skin.

Stimulates the Lymphatic System – Dry brushing (see below) is believed to stimulate the lymphatic system, which is important for developing a strong immune system. Lymph ducts are located all over the body and drain into the blood circulatory system just above the heart. So, in theory, brushing toward the heart could improve the function of the lymphatic system.

Detoxification – It’s certainly the buzz word of late. Brushing the skin not only removes dead skin cells and stimulates oil production but stimulates blood flow to the skin through the smaller capillaries in the skin’s deeper layers. The increased blood flow both promotes skin renewal and supports detoxification, encouraging the elimination of toxins.

Calming the Mind – Our nervous system is also intimately connected to our skin. Think about our touch receptors. Touch can be soothing and calming when we’re coping with stress or in need of relaxation, as well as uplifting and invigorating when we’re depressed. Regular dry brushing routine has been suggested for people who are coping with depression.

So, what is dry brushing?(1) As the name implies, it is practiced when the skin is dry, before bathing or applying oil or lotion. This promotes exfoliation, skin renewal and revitalization, and the stimulation of the lymphatic and nervous systems beneath the skin. Try using a natural-bristle brush or a loofah glove and brush toward the heart. Before a bath or shower is a perfect time to include dry brushing in your daily routine, especially since the subsequent immersion in water can support the removal of dead skin and continue the detoxification process.

Want more reasons to slough off some skin? Remember those phrases so commonly used like, beauty is only skin deep, it’s like a second skin, it got under my skin, and thick skinned or thin skinned. Maybe our thick skinned friends that are not easily offended or insensitive, could use a trip to the scrubbing spa? I know I’ll be back and in the meantime, I’m going to find one of those cool, soft, natural fiber brush with a long handle so that you are able to reach all areas of your body, just like my Korean masseuse.

(1) http://www.naturalhealthtechniques.com/

*Recycled from May 29, 2011. Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends.

Newsletter – 6-3-12

Can you Go There?*

You’re thinking about a friend and they call you on the phone. Was it a coincidence? Could be. You’ve envisioned your new apartment and as you’re driving to work, there it is complete with a For Rent sign in front. Coincidence? You’re confused about leaving your day job. You want to work with animals, your real passion. You turn the page of the PressDemocrat and the first thing that catches your eye is an article on careers in vet medicine. Coincidence? Synchronicity? As The Police said: “Effect without cause, sub-atomic laws,scientific pause, synchronicity.”

Will you allow yourself to go there? Is it too scary to think that there might be “something” (consciousness, force, supreme being, higher power, God) that affects or guides our reality? Is someone in the clouds with a big Rubik’s Cube and is continually putting random pieces together. Is it like Matt Damon’s movie, do men in black suits with hats wander around with little lack notebooks, filled with your destiny? Personally, I find this subject fascinating.

At this point you’re thinking, “Whoa, Cheryl, do you really believe that c*$@p?” No problem, Namaste, and skip to the last paragraph. Curious? Read on.

Not only can stuff happen TO you, maybe you can MAKE stuff happen. It’s called manifestation or visualizing what you want to happen, actually living it in your mind. Example: You have a presentation to make at work. In your mind see yourself before your audience–calm. relaxed and confident. You imagine they’re engaged in your words, taking notes, nodding in agreement. You feel amazingly confident in how enjoyable and comfortable it is to present what you know to others. It’s offen referred to as manifestation and you don’t need any formal education, buy The Secret or pay some lacquer-haired speaker some ungodly price to learn this.

A close relative of synchronicity and manifestation is Dang Creepy Happenings. A couple of months ago I had a week where some freaky things occurred. A Chinese fortune cookie with an encouraging message appeared on the kitchen floor. Where did it come from? I do not know. A heavy brass lock fell out of my jeans when I took them out of the drawer. Huh? A small, crudely painted ceramic bear appeared on my desk. I turn it over and written on the back is C.T. 3 ½. Where did it come from? I’m curious. I like to ponder these things. I do not have answers.

Maybe because I’m in the yoga biz, I hear about these things more than the typical person (OK, all the time). People feel comfortable confiding that “My deceased mother came to me last night. She held me in her arms and I felt so comforted and safe”. This is not a conversation that happens around the water cooler at your local workplace, right? I think the inexplicable happens more often than we think but that people just don’t talk about it. Many folks would just not understand. They’d stare at you for an extra couple of seconds to see if it’s a joke and then quickly change the subject. Speaking of the inexplicable, what about those 11:11 people?

Does any of this sound familiar? If it doesn’t, maybe you’re not paying attention. We’ve been programmed to ignore what doesn’t make sense. Yes, yes, I know, you can’t prove it, it’s all b.s., hot-tub, pot smoking woohoo. But, I say start observing. Find opportunities to look for meaning in random happenings. Begin looking for nuance in everything. You don’t have to find an answer or make sense of anything. Not everything needs to be figured out. Are you willing?