The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, verse 15:
“Always tell the truth, Arjuna, and present it in as pleasant a way as possible. If you cannot do that, remain silent. If something absolutely needs to be said you must uphold the truth, but find a way to do it that is gentle and obliging.
“Do not hurt others through harsh words. Words can be more painful than physical violence, and the hurt lasts longer. Words meant to excite negativity are an act of violence; shun such words…
We have two sides of our tongue–physically we have the bottom and the top, but metaphorically speaking we have two sides as well…the side of the tongue which starts from the bottom, from a dark and dreary place that never sees the bright of day and the top side which gets a refreshing breeze every time the mouth opens and is filled with light.
How incredibly dangerous our tongue can be and in contrast what a blessing it can bring. Sometimes intentionally we use our tongue to hurt others by forming injurious words. We tear people down and discourage them. Unfortunately, we can also do the same damage unintentionally.
Why is it so easy to say something hurtful? And why is it even easier to say something cruel to those that are dearest to us? What does our ego get from hurting others? And how does this reflect the words we speak to ourselves during our inner dialogue?
We have all heard the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Anyone who had something mean said to them will tell you that this statement is completely false. Words can leave scars deeper than physical cuts.
On the contrary, we have also been encouraged by words. We use these uplifting words as a comparison to the negative side of the tongue.
Simply put, Our words can hurt or they can heal.
You may have heard someone say, “I speak my mind” in justification to why they said hurtful, blunt, and obtrusive words. A popular expression, however it misses the mark onto the reason behind the words they chose and only protects the ego, convincing themselves they have been honest and should make no apologies. “Speaking my mind” is a lazy way of expressing that your tongue blurted out your current emotions without looking within yourself. In any case, we yogis know that the mind is very volatile, ranging from happiness to anger, and can not possibly get to the root of how we are truly feeling, and what we would like to say.
Our words often come from an impulsive and unpredictable place which is why they have the potency to do so much damage. Our tongue, like a cigarette thrown out of a car window, has the power to light a huge forest fire and destroy anything in its path.
I propose we start to speak from the heart instead of our minds. When one speaks from the heart they have taken the time to look within and ask, why. Why do I feel this way? With this notion we can recognize and honor our feelings and begin to speak with truth, dignity, understanding, and goodwill.
Let our speech always be seasoned with grace; that our mouth be used for healing, comforting, kindness and hope. I hope we all can reflect on our words. Let your heart speak and the tongue be polished.
[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Lisa Sochocki, owner of Yoga Loft Hawaii.]