June 26 Practicing Mindful Conversation: The Fourth Mindfulness Training

This Monday Annie will facilitate.  


We will discuss The Five Mindfulness Trainings, and focus our conversation around the fourth Mindfulness Training: Loving Speech and Deep Listening:


Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. 


Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. 


I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. 


I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.


What does this teaching mean to you? How do we transform, rather than suppress, our anger in order to speak to someone with whom we are angry without making the situation worse? 


My biggest challenge practicing with this training is with my family, specifically my partner. When I am angry with friends or strangers, I rarely raise my voice, use snotty sarcasm or words that diminish them. But when my partner pisses me off, it happens. And yet, my relationship with my partner means so much more to me, and how we communicate has a bigger impact on my own happiness.


Mindfulness of my emotional state is the key for me. When I am able to notice that I'm getting angry, I can make a choice to take a deep breath, really look at my partner and see that he's the one I love (or as my sister would say, "he's my person"), or even take a time out in the bathroom. Any of those actions gives me the time I need to calm myself down enough to notice what might be beneath the anger bubbling up in me.


After calming down, there's still a need to process the anger. What part of me is being triggered and why? When I'm at my best, I take loving care of the part of me that's upset, and I dive deep enough under the anger to find and feel the fear or sadness is beneath it. This kind of loving care is what Thich Nhat Hanh is talking about when he suggests to "gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness."


It all starts with pausing and recognizing that we are about to spew some words that will not inspire confidence, joy, and hope. That's one reason that this training is so helpful for me. 


On Monday, after our meditation period, we can talk about some of these questions:


What's your story around anger and (un)mindful speaking? How and when have you been able to pause and transform the underlying feelings? When haven't you? How can you take loving care of your feelings so you can speak to your loved ones from a place of freshness and ease?

I look forward to seeing you then. xo annie.


A few notes about the Five Mindfulness Trainings:


These trainings are not commandments or Buddhist dogma, they are a offered as suggestions to support mindfulness practice by providing us with a compass with which to orient our lives. They represent a vision of all our spiritual ancestors for a global spirituality and ethic and are a concrete expression of a path of wisdom and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate a way of life which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. Following this way of life, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.


"The Five Precepts are not prohibitions to restrict our freedom, and they are not an authority, which we have no choice but to follow. The precepts are the fruit of our mindfulness and experience. Because we are mindful, we can see that the precepts protect us and our happiness, as well as that of those with whom we live. We take the vow to receive and practice the precepts in order to preserve our freedom and happiness in days to come.


Being the fruit of mindfulness, the precepts are the embodiment of enlightenment, which is the Buddha himself. They are the embodiment of the Dharma, which is the path shown by the Buddha. They are also the embodiment of the Sangha, the community of all those who have taken up the path. Practicing the Five Precepts is to be one with the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. To recite the precepts is an exercise in mindfulness of their teachings and a way of looking deeply at the benefits of keeping them."  - Thich Nhat Hanh