I have been thinking a lot about words lately. Word choice in particular. I am exploring the impact and effectiveness of language used to inspire, as well as the subtlety and sensitivity required in more delicate moments.
As a teacher, language is often my central tool in communication with students. When teaching a mind/body practice, exercising precision and mindful selection of words is even more important to ensure safety, direction, and compassionate guidance for each student. Knowing each student responds to words differently is an observation worth making and requires diligence in ongoing exploration for effective teaching.
Words can energize, empower, and encourage. Words can heal and also do unintentional harm.
In Buddhist philosophy, there is a skillful practice called “right speech.” The concept is taught to practitioners to be aware of the words used in speaking about ourselves or when speaking to others, in any situation and as often as possible. It is best to select words that are kind and appropriate. Using harmful language, even accidentally, can cause damage; not only may it damage our inner selves, but it also may damage our friends, family, and the larger community. Gossip, or an argument or discussion with difficult language or hurtful words will ripple outwards to others and surround you in its repercussions and consequences, like a house with clutter, dirty windows, and unattended repairs.
When you use “right speech” with others, they will have every reason to use right speech with you. Giving and receiving.
Further, by practicing mindful language when speaking about yourself or to your partner, colleague, or student, you are ensuring that your “house” will always be filled with carefully selected words of compassion and truth to support you. The rooms will be fresh and airy and sun will stream in through crystal clean windows. Repairs can be made in a timely manner. And what’s more, a house of love and compassion can never fall down.
- TaraMarie Perri