Sunday, November 14, 2010
Let's Not Talk About It
A vital part of teaching yoga is allowing students to hear their inner voices, to rest in the awareness of being, to find their reactive natures and witness themselves in action. Verbal cues can make a huge difference in directing attention and cultivating awareness, and they can also blur into a sound wall that blocks all those inner levels of investigation.
In conversation the same thing can happen, and I know that I, specifically, can be totally the perpetrator of a wall of talk. I grew up in a family where there was competitive talking -- and had to learn as the youngest in the gang, how to enter this, or even whether to enter in. Then, out of that context, I had to learn how to hear myself stomping all over the possibility of an exchange. Part of it is probably defense. Okay, I am a passionate type to begin with, but believing in what you say is not an excuse for not listening.
Believing in what you say is not an excuse for not listening.
Believing in what you say can also mean not listening to what is inside your self. Taking a position, holding a position, knowing something so firmly, so elaborately, that it can, all of its own massiveness, block out the possibilities inside your own head, body, awareness as well as anything coming from any where else.
Silence is not a negative quality. Not talking offers a possibility, rather than a negation of speech. The mind is always full of chat, and if we let the chat fill in all the spaces, well, where's the space for awareness?
So, yes, meditation is a way of observing all of this, but yoga practice is that too, and attending yoga classes, and teaching yoga classes, and having breakfast with your lover, and walking your dog or without your dog. Even engaging in casual conversation with someone on the subway is an opportunity to observe, to listen, to find the spaces that surround the piles of words and ideas, yours and theirs.
Sometimes it is infinitely richer to listen more fully than to talk more about it. Not saying that keeping things to yourself is the deal; there are plenty of times when it is essential to share and words are one mechanism.
Words are one mechanism.
Exploring the others is a marvelous journey. So for just a minute, let's not talk about it! As Jacques Pepin says at the end of every TV kitchen episode, "Happy Cooking!" Do the doing, be the being, listen to the fullness and emptiness of whatever you come across, inside or out.