Category Archives: Language

The Words We Say, Part III

One of the great lessons of practicing Mindfulness is that time expands when we allow ourselves to experience the fullness of exactly what we are doing in each moment.  This life is to be lived, to be fully experienced, and to be enjoyed.  When we feel rushed or overwhelmed by our massive “to-do” lists, we cannot be in the moment, and we permit external factors to dictate how we feel about the time we have to spend in this brief life.   When one says, “I don’t have time…,” one negates not only the possibility of that for which one proclaims one doesn’t have time (self-care, meditation, yoga, exercise, fun, whatever…), but also the present moment in which one is living.  In all likelihood, the words “I don’t have time… ” are uttered in a state of anxiousness.  The words “I don’t have time” shrink one’s perception of what is possible. When our minds feel hectic, running this way and that, we are typically not even fully present for that which we hold up as the reason for which we “have no time.”  And, we certainly diminish the potential for enjoyment of it.

Most everyone perceives time differently in different moments. Our perception of time is far from consistently linear, although we tend to view it as such.  When we are experiencing complete enjoyment, we luxuriate in a feeling of timelessness. When we experience boredom, time feels oppressive. When we believe we have to rush through this moment in order to get to something we believe is beyond this moment, time seems to narrow and diminish just when we believe we need it most.   Our experience of time is anchored in our perception of it. Change the perception, and you change the experience.

If you find yourself saying “I don’t have time…,” it is helpful to check in with your breath.  Long, slow, deep breaths taken in full awareness  are like a deep reset button, facilitating a calming response in the body.  When we are in a calm state of mind, time feels different. It feels expansive. When we are in a calm state of mind, we do in full awareness and control.  A practice of meditation helps greatly, because it trains the mind to be aware of its state.  As soon as one feels hectic, one notices.  When a practitioner of meditation utters the words, “I don’t have time,” he will probably notice how restrictive and anxious those words feel.  Noticing helps, because the sooner down the road of anxiety that one can start calming the body/mind via the breath, the lesser degree of anxiety that wells up.

An affirmation that I have found particularly helpful is “Time is expansive and abundant. I allow time to expand.”  When I say those words, I feel more in control of my life and my choices. I allow myself to breathe and to experience time afresh.  I feel more fully located in this moment. And, I feel more empowered to spend my precious time in this life in activities that result in my highest good, the highest good of others, the greatest creativity, and the most enjoyment.

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The Words We Say Without Thinking, Part II

Many of us had some kind of negative childhood experience which taught us that being noticed by others is a dangerous thing.  I can think of so many moments in my own childhood in which being called upon in class resulted in being washed over with embarrassment.  So, the subconscious mind will often operate in very sneaky ways to prevent encountering the danger of being noticed. Feeling vital, optimally healthful, and  full of creativity and energy are sure ways to be noticed, because the person who is vibrant attracts attention through her presence, words, and actions.  Negative affirmations provide  opportunities for the subconscious mind to sap one of vitality that is notice-able.

One such negative affirmation that  I often hear and used to say quite often myself without thinking is “I’m sick and tired… “  This is an unfortunately effective affirmation which only serves to sap one of energy, vitality, and confidence.  While the conscious mind may have an external target in mind (“I’m sick and tired of my job,” for example), the subconscious mind records and affirms exactly what  is being said– “I AM sick and tired.”  What a terrible thing to say to and about one’s self:  because neurons that fire together wire together, repeated affirmations like this persuade the mind and body that one actually feels sick and tired.

The first step to eliminating negative affirmations is to awaken mindfulness of one’s inner thoughts and spoken words without judgement.  Notice the quality of thoughts and words–do they resonate positively or negatively? Just notice without judgement. Then, if they resonate negatively,  reach for a better feeling–the OPPOSITE feeling.  Affirm that –even if the rest  of you wants to revolt against the idea of feeling GOOD.  As they say, “fake it until you make it”–  the more you affirm feeling vital and healthful instead of sick and tired, the more you will gradually move your body and mind into healthfulness, creativity, and vitality.

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The Words We Say Without Thinking

A year or so ago, I believe I was called to take the first step upon what would come to be a profoundly transformative personal and spiritual journey.  I was deeply depressed and anxious, and my thoughts and emotions resonated in the focal vibration of despair.  Perhaps everyone experiences a ‘dark night of the soul’ sometime in his or her life, and the shadow-period often serves as a kind of initiation rite, through which an individual can break out of thoughts and emotions that no longer serve her highest interest  and enter into a new stage of personal evolution.

One of the first things that I had to learn how to do (and meditation was the vehicle…) was to pay close attention to the words and phrases that I was telling myself without even realizing it.  These mental formations had become habits of thinking that kept me locked into a dark spiritual space and into old patterns of behavior which ultimately originated from childhood traumata.  Negative thought patterns limited the possibility of living a life of happiness, freedom, and abundance.  I began paying closer attention to them, and made specific intentions to alter negative affirmations to positive ones.  Now that positive affirmations have become a daily part of my spiritual practice, I have noticed how often I hear negative affirmations from others in my environment–words and phrases that are commonly spoken without much attention to the energetic value of them.  In this and future blog posts, I will be offering my thoughts about specific words/phrases that I myself have often used without thought, and which I hear daily from folks around me.

“I’m sorry“:  I have personally found that expressing an apology with the words “I’m sorry” is actually a negative affirmation.  Sorry expresses regret, which often arises out of blame, shame, and embarrassment–some of the most toxic human emotions. “I’m sorry” carries a resonance of self-abnegation.  When we affirm shame and regret, we actually further ingrain those old patterns of behavior that lead to further suffering for ourselves and those with whom we interact.  Furthermore, in our culture, we often use the word “sorry” as a derogatory adjective (ex.: that’s a sorry excuse).  All real compassion toward others  originates from compassion towards the self; when we err, it is important that we acknowledge that error, learn from it, and try to make amends.  As an alternative to “I’m sorry,” “I apologize” affirms exactly that–“I understand that I have erred, and I acknowledge that here and now.”

“Apology” comes from the ancient Greek word, “apologia.”  The Greek word “logos” is embedded within the word “apology”; “logos” in Greek means “reasoning,” “awareness,” “speech.”  The preposition “apo” in Greek means “originating from.” Thus, an apology expresses that your speech comes from your awareness, from your deep understanding.  When someone asks for an apology, what they generally wish to hear from the other person is a deep acknowledgement of the effect his actions or words had on others.

“I apologize” affirms deep understanding and, equally importantly, the opportunity to learn from what has been deeply acknowledged and understood.  I truly believe that every single interaction with other people provides an opportunity for personal evolution.  Error often provides the pathway to learning some of life’s most profound lessons.  It is possible to take responsibility for one’s words and actions while affirming one’s natural right to personal evolution through deeper understanding.

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