Sticks and Stones…

"Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so he is." Publillus Syrus

The other day I almost drowned in a ravage sea of verbal abuse.  It’s not important to review the specifics of the assault, but believe me, I felt attacked — punched so hard that it literally took my breath away. In those ensuing three minutes of verbal violence, those horribly negative, angry, filth infested words thrown at me had a life of their own.  Honestly, they were like some virulent organism, capable of growing, expanding, transforming, impacting my thoughts and feelings, effecting my entire day.  It felt as if their seething energy crossed the barrier of my skin, gained entry into my cells, and advanced straight towards my ego with rapid precision.  Before I knew it, those loathsome words began to sing harmony with antiquated hurtful rhetoric, carbon dated verbal assaults and innuendoes spoken by elementary school teachers, classmates, my mother, ex lovers, strangers, co-workers, and last but definitely not least, my very own self negating speak.

For several moments I actually took in the vicious words as if they were true and then I had an epiphany of sorts and realized I was no longer that wounded child of long ago who had to listen to negative speak hurled my way believing it was true, taking it in, owning it, and apologizing so that I would be loved once again.  Nope!  In that moment, I remembered that I was an adult woman learning to accept myself just as I Am, without judgment or violence.  At an early age, I experienced the sting of emotional pain, and internalized a lot of that judgment and cruelty in my heart.  But as an adult, I am dedicated to a practice of non-violence to others and myself.  I realize now that I, and most everyone I meet, share a tender need for self-mercy and care.  (And that includes the maniac screaming obscenities at me earlier!)

Every person and every situation that I encounter in my life holds some teaching for me and is always a huge opening to grow and awaken spiritually. Let me be honest here.  It took me several days to shake off this experience.  It took an entire session with my spiritual teacher, hours and hours of Kundalini yoga, much ‘processing’ with my husband and several friends before I understood the ‘illumination’ of that attack, and here it is:

Any and all violence we commit against ourselves simply feeds the violence all around us and perpetuates the very suffering we experienced as children.  When we are hurtful to ourselves or to others, the sticky remains of that violence stays in our bodies and our hearts like some shape-shifting virus, cutting us off from our healing, and separating us from our divinity.

The Sufis say that real truth is always spoken with love, and that every single word we utter must pass through three gates:

At the first gate we ask ourselves, “Are these words TRUE?”  If so, we let them pass on.  At the second gate we ask, “Are they NECESSARY?”   And finally, at the last gate, we ask ourselves, “Are they KIND?”

If they are not, kindly remain silent!