“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. ~ Abraham Lincoln”
“Speak only if it improves upon the silence” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
“As my teacher once said, “If you can’t control your mouth, there’s no way you can hope to control your mind.’ This is why right speech is so important in day-to-day practice.
Right speech, explained in negative terms, means avoiding four types of harmful speech: lies (words spoken with the intent of misrepresenting the truth); divisive speech (spoken with the intent of creating rifts between people); harsh speech (spoken with the intent of hurting another person’s feelings); and idle chatter (spoken with no purposeful intent at all).
In positive terms, right speech means speaking in ways that are trustworthy, harmonious, comforting, and worth taking to heart. When you make a practice of these positive forms of right speech, your words become a gift to others. In response, other people will start listening more to what you say, and will be more likely to respond in kind. This gives you a sense of the power of your actions: the way you act in the present moment does shape the world of your experience. You don’t need to be a victim of past events.” ~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
As a society, I find we tend to be a very chatty group. Most of us always have something to say, and even find it extremely uncomfortable to be with silence. Especially when we find ourselves sitting with friends or Family, we seem compelled to filled the air with the sound of our own voice.
But is this mindful? Is this conducive to good, and encouraging of harmony and peace?
Inasmuch as I may have increased my mindfulness over the past many years, still I often find that I am speaking only to fill the void. And more enough than I care to admit, those words are not wise nor do they cultivate loving friendliness and goodwill. And quickly I become aware that silence is truly golden, and I could have offered much more benefit by observing my own mind and keeping my mouth shut.
One small revelation I have discovered recently, is to pay very close attention to the physical sensations of my body when I am about to speak. And if only pausing a moment before speaking, I observe how my body is reacting to the conversation – I often see that there is a tension or nervousness in my chest and breathing. This tightness is a present awareness of discomfort or dissatisfaction. And if I can be aware of that, then I know I should not speak until I gain a better understanding of this aversion.
There are no words that I need offer you, but concentration and awareness that I must develop in my own mind. Notice that I said “no words”. That means to just shut up, and allow the silence.
And if you find yourself feeling powerfully compelled to respond, you can stop and ask yourself why you have this feeling. This is a passionate feeling for you, and passion is never wise nor wholesome. So allow yourself some time to examine this sensation as well.
Most of us who meditate on a regular basis find it very calming to sit in silence. There is a peace and tranquility that we enjoy. It’s our “quite time” in the midst of a hectic and fast-paced World, with our multitude of responsibilities.
And if you see how conducive that is to you in meditation, I hope you will see that you can offer this gift to yourself and others by only speaking when it improves upon silence.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.