Years ago, I wanted to strike off one item from my bucket list-- to go hang gliding. It happened that I was going on a trip to Europe, and I thought it would be more meaningful if I combined the trip with hang gliding. So I searched online and found this person who would be able to help me. It was not a center or a tourist spot. It was one person teaching hang gliding. I set up the day and time even though my online search did not give me a clear idea on how to get there by public transport. When I got to Milan, I hopped on a train that I thought would bring me to the general direction of that area. After some time, it dawned on me that I may be on the wrong train. I mustered up some courage and asked the friendly-looking fatherly man in front of me "Is this train going towards Varese?" He gave me a polite smile, spoke in Italian something that meant he did not understand English. I took out my map, unfolded it, and pointed to the area that I wanted to go. And thus started our two-language conversation. He spoke Italian the whole time, and I English. At one point, he must have asked what I wanted to do there, and I raised my arms up shoulder height and tilted from side to side, and he excalimed "volare!" and it sounded right for whatever reason, so I joined his excitement and said "si, si, volare!" It in fact meant flying, as I found out after-the-fact, and we understood each other enough that he was able to help me get to the right train in the end.
This little episode is a testament to the focus of the month this month, which is: It's not what you say-- it's how you say it. We may think communicating is about language, the words we choose, the breadth of our vocabulary, the level of our eloquence. While those things are useful, they are not the only things that make up communications. Communicating is also about the tone we use, the starts and stops, the pauses in between, the gestures, the facial expressions, and perhaps most importantly and least emphasized is our intention. There is an intelligence we all have that we do not quite measure-- the ability to read and pick up each other's intentions.
For today's practice, choose an intention in which you would like to communicate, be it to be speak more patiently or compassionately or openly. Let this intention root you. As you move from asana to asana, notice the tone and manner in which you speak to yourself. Is it consistent with your intention? If not, make no judgment. There is a reason why you chose that particular intention. Acknowledge it as a practice and keep picking up where you left off. When we come into challenging poses, is our internal dialogue one of acceptance or one of reproach? Often, how we speak to ourselves is also how we speak to others. If we find it easy to forgive ourselves, we find it easy to forgive others. If we are critical of ourselves, we are also critical of others. And these tendencies show up in our intentions; we emanate these vibrations, and however carefully we choose our words, our deepest intention will come out in some way for it to be known. When you come to virasana or hero pose, consider if the natural tendency that you have in speaking to others is a manner that uplifts others or a manner that puts others down. Choose to be a hero by practicing your intention, speaking with that motivation, communicating with that openness. The last time you had a miscommunication, did you state your intention to yourself clearly? Were you conscious of what you intended to do? Did you by default start to speak without truly listening to the other person? Offer your last urdha danurasana to this person you had miscommunications with, and in your mind speak to this person with your chosen intention, such that the next time you communicate, you will be able to carry this clear deliberate intention.
It's not what you say-- it's how you say it. If we chose our intentions well before we let the words come out, perhaps our own lives would be a lot more peaceful. It's not what you say-- it's how you say it. If we communicated by truly listening, our interactions would be an exchange and not an imposition of our own views. It's not what you say-- it's how you say it. If we acknowledge that deep down we share the same intention in seeking happiness and freedom, our words will start to hold the power of uniting rather than separating.