Most spiritual, ethical, and social-emotional teachings all speak about the importance of speech in some way, shape, or form. I was inspired and guided Eknath Easwaran’s Words to Live By, in which he discusses the importance of three gatekeepers that help us strive toward “right speech”. Before words pass our lips, each gatekeeper asks the following:
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?
Imagine if we considered all three of these before speaking! We would discover a world of peace, quiet, and most importantly, kindness. When I found the above quote, it drove home the importance of our responsibility as parents, teachers, co-workers, and simply just living, breathing humans to imprint the truth with kindness and consideration.
Mindfulness of speech is a practice and for me a very important one to keep at daily. Some might say I have a “truck driver’s mouth” (no insult intended toward a truck driver) and it is true at times that my speech is far from kind, necessary, or even true! This week is a reminder for myself and for others to pay attention to speech. Remember that it is not about having perfect speech or judging self or others, but rather paying attention to what you say with the gatekeepers in mind. Most importantly, we should reflect on how our words impact others around us.
Easwaran adds the caveat that there are times that we allow the third gatekeeper time off so we can engage in social connecting and casual conversation. It is these times that the other gatekeepers get lazy and revert back to automatic blabbering. So when you become aware, allow the gatekeeper to gently guide you back to presence of speech (which may require an apology or two) and start again.
As we venture deeper into the holiday season with greater stressors and triggers that bring out childish or automatic reactions, I ask you to consider the following:
At any moment, we can apologize and begin anew.
May this post oil the gates and allow them to operate on behalf of greater love, kindness, and peace. May you consider the power of your speech and how you decide to use it in your daily life.
Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.