What we SAY Does matter: Cultivating Conscious Communication
Empty coffee can, scattered cut out magazine pictures from Seventeen magazine and Tiger Beat, and glue stick in hand, I made my first "I can" can at 8. My mother fed me large doses of Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peal and other motivational speakers on our monthly commutes to my Grandma Walker's in Oklahoma from Dallas. I recall a lot of eye rolling and pretending to be asleep so that my mom would turn the cassette player down in her Mary Kay pink Cadillac. Nothing could dissuade her from playing these talks to her car-captured audience (my older brother and myself). She believed they would replace the "garbage in, garbage out" influences of our youth.
My "I can" can (made from a spagettios tin can) was a part of Zig's "See You At The Top" simple plan. Place your goals and desires inside, and these would soon become a reality. It seemed to work for Mom. Every 2 years, even as scattered as she was, my gypsy mother won another Mary Kay pink car and earned just enough money and prizes (including "add-a-diamond" rings) to keep our single parent family afloat.
The power of positive thinking got me through my insecure teen years. And, now 30 years later, I find myself clothed by my mother's words: "have an attitude of gratitude". Let's just say that the words "I can" is the only option my house as a result.
In Judith Lasater’s book, "What We Say Matters", influenced by Marshal Rosenberg's “Non-violent Communication”, she explores the importance of practicing ahimsa, nonharming and satya, truth in our daily speech. Urging that our patterns of speaking are a direct reflection of thoughts and shine a light into our soul. She follows the tenants of Buddha's "right speech" in a very practical, usable way. As I began to implement the simplicity of this form of communication, I found I began to have more genuine connections. This authenticity helped me see speech as spiritual practice. "All spiritual practices are fundamentally about the same thing: being present and living with an open heart. It is the essence of living consciously. But in the hectic business of daily life and the habitual patterns of long relationships, most of us "go unconscious" when our patterns are triggered by our partner or circumstances."
"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts ...with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. " -Buddha
Staying attune to that awareness on a daily basis with the barrage (often mis-understood) emails, texts and at home is challenging. Even with the desire to overhaul my thought process, my “I can” attitude wanes and needs restoration. The timeliness of my next lesson was Divine. While in Thailand, I was introduced to a course called "Conscious Language to Facilitate Conscious Living" by John Schmidt, a Texan retired abroad who has embodied this practice for over 20 years. In the 80's and 90's he facilitated share circles and open discussions in his Austin organic food company, Sunbelt Organics, as a way to transform the consciousness of his business. He weaves the elementary, yet influential phrase "I choose to make this (everything) fun and easy" in his daily life.
Words and our emotional body contain strength and potential. Our subconscious responds to feeling and is always operating. With our conscious mind, we have the power of choice and by making small adjustments in our subconscious mind, we can choose spoken words that will transform our lives and impact others positively. The most practical, immediate application for me is that I would often say what I choose not to do, rather than what I choose to do. For instance, I would say, "I won't do that again", "I hope this works out this time" or "I'll attempt to be there". These words: "hope, attempt, almost, possibly, perhaps, in process and try" create vagueness and conditions that have to be met. Instead, choose to either do something or not. It's yes or no. Open or close. I choose open, so that my thoughts, words and emotions will create a reality I desire. I choose: I can.