Updated: Jun 29, 2021
I’m continuing to think about the power of words, not just the words we say to others but the words we say to ourselves.
It’s said that we good at what every we practice most … or we are influenced by the people we are around the most … or we are affected by the words we think the most.
Sometimes it’s possible to get caught on auto pilot or sleepwalking through life. Without awareness we may not be overtly cognizant of the impact of our thoughts, words, or actions, but we feel them.
Robert Ingersoll said, “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments – there are only consequences.”
So how do we move out of unconsciousness and begin to shift towards living a life that is more in tune and in integrity? First we learn to pay attention.
A HUGE part of yoga practice is to become aware, svadhyaya or self-study. To observe what we are thinking, saying, and doing moment to moment. In this practice we have the opportunity to catch any unhelpful, unproductive, unkind thoughts and redirect or replace them with more helpful, productive, and kinds thoughts.
It can be challenging to shift from the unconscious to the conscious, to willfully make yourself wake up. But you can begin to notice when you become aware of yourself in any given moment. And as Jon Kabat-Zinn says,
“Simply bearing witness changes everything.”
When we learn to strengthen the muscle of attention and invoke the presence of the witness we can slowly wake up to those moments and in those moments we can choose to act in a way that is kind and compassionate to ourselves and others.
Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a book a number of years ago called "The Four Agreements" that invites these type of inquires. This book get's mentioned in almost all the work I do either by me or the participants in the program.
Yoga Teacher Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD and her husband Ike Lasater wrote a wonderful book on non-violent communication call "What We Say Matters". I highly recommend this short but powerful read.
A pioneer in the field of self-compassion Christopher Germer penned "The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions." This book is accessible, practical, and a must read.
There is tenders self-compassion and then there is fierce self-compassion. The title of Kristin Neff's new book "Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power, and Thrive." Bringing another avenue to communicate with ourselves, written with women in mind but applicable to all human this is a landmark read.
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