"An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind"
Part of teaching yoga professionally is being a public speaker. Our words can be gems or bombs creating or destroying. Who ever came up with the childhood rhyme "stick and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me" was so far off the truth it amazes me. Our words literally have the ability to create life and destroy it. But words will only take us so far. Part of being a professional yoga student (which is all a teacher is) is diving down into silence. Building space for inner quiet.
So lately I have been feeling this strange tension between wanting to communicate and wanting to sit in silence. The tensions between dualities are familiar to any yogi. Balancing effort and ease is yoga 101. Balancing external focus and inner journey is a step we must take. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and not knowing what to say. It is ok, but at the same time as expectant students look at me in the beginning of a class, if no words come out confusion may arise.
I'm not sure I have a "lesson" in this blog or even an encouraging story. But rather perhaps an invitation to co-explore with me what it means to speak and to be silent. I had a interesting experience the other day with words. Tim and I take turns picking where we go to lunch on Saturdays and inevitably when it is his turn I cannot keep my mouth shut. It has been my intention since the beginning to truly stand back and silently and let him choose where he really wants to go, but my mouth has never cooperated with this intention. So, when his time to chose rolled around again I actually said out loud in the morning "I vow to not interfere with lunch today" Now I have said before "I will let you chose" "I will not interfere" "I will be quiet" but this time was different. Something about the strength of the word "Vow" When lunchtime rolled around and he started throwing suggestions at me expecting my normal interference all that came to my mind was the strength of the word vow. I held onto that word long enough for him to pick a place on his own. The word vow became a life raft for me to rest on long enough to allow him space. Of course the word "vow" has no special powers except the ones I give it. The word had meaning for me and so it became strong.
The bible scripture Matthew 15:11 "what goes into someones mouth does not defile them, but what comes out, that is what defiles them" has always been a reminder to me to not be neurotic about what I eat because what goes in will not defile me. But in contrast as I sit with this scripture as a more mature seeker I can see how one could get neurotic about what they say. If we really understood the power of our words we might never speak again. I could easily get neurotic about my words now that I am just beginning to see their immense energy. But thankfully we also have the scripture in Exodus 4:15 where God tells Moses (and us) "now go, I will teach you how to speak and I will tell you what to say" So, it comes down to this for me: effective speaking only comes from deep listening. Words only bloom into life when they originate from a well of silence. If we are speaking just to speak that is just :ego vomit' but perhaps when we listen quietly there is a message to pass along using words. I love the quote "Preach all you can and if necessary use words" Francis of Assisi I love the irony of this quote, because it sheds light on the power of silence, but only by using words.
I did not expect when I opened Quiet that I would have a season of literally embodying the name. I did not expect that some of the deeper truths we learn have no words to describe them. But they say if you can see the path ahead it is not your path. And so I dive into the mystery of silence as I relearn to use my words.