”You do not awaken spiritually until the compulsive and unconscious naming ceases, or at least you become aware of it and thus are able to observe it as it happens”. Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth.
The power of words in our lives in undeniable. Our minds have a tendency to label everything. Words make up our whole world, whether spoken, read or thought. We describe something as good or bad, exciting or boring. We categorise people, often upon meeting them. ‘She is Sandra Cooke, 45 years old, a mother, divorced, single mother, British’. From these labels, we instantly create a mental picture of who we think the person is. We label ourselves, often from past experiences, or by remembering words that were used to describe us in the past. Most of us were raised in households where we were constantly told if our behaviour is good or bad, and we rely on the opinions of our parent’s and our siblings. Your older brother may have always told you you are ugly, or stupid, and it doesn’t matter how beautiful or smart you are, you will grow up holding that opinion about yourself in some way. Words become our thoughts and opinions, about ourselves and about others. But are you these labels that you have become attached too, whether they are positive or negative? Are we just a sum of all of our past experiences in life? Thinking in this way can sometimes affects our actions in the present moment – our whole identity becomes threatened if we do not act in a way that corresponds with our past, with the identity that we have created for ourselves.
Words and emotions
We also name how we are feeling- sad, happy, frustrated, nervous, excited etc. When you are feeling a pain in the body, or nervousness, anxiety, anger or fear (or any ‘negative’ emotion), try to disconnect from the word that describes the emotion. Feel it instead. Close your eyes and feel the sensations that arise in the body, without labeling them. Labeling a sensation in the body with a word cements it, makes it so. For example, every time you experience anxiety, it will probably feel slightly different. There may be a trigger for it, or it may come from no where. You may think, why am I anxious today? And create a story about why. Maybe its because of something that’s happening around me that’s not how I want it to be. Or anxiety about something going wrong in my life. Or perhaps its just a sensation in the body that we label as anxiety, and it thus becomes it. It’s helpful to try something else, and this can be used with any emotion experienced in the body, whether ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Try and feel the emotion in the body completely. Feel the sensations arising inside you. Become very aware of yourself before you start acting upon it. Try and let go of words that you would usually use to describe it to yourself. Become very present, and allow the feelings and sensations to be there. And allow them to leave you.
Be Impeccable with your word
Don Miguel Ruiz’s ‘The Four Agreements’ is based on ancient Toltec philosophy, and highlights four key agreements that we can follow to live a peaceful life. His philosophy highlights the power of words in his first agreement- ‘be impeccable with your word’. The word is the power we have to create, and through our words, we manifest everything. A word is more than just a group of phonetics or a symbol, it is ‘a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think and thereby to create the events in your life’. Experiment with bringing this awareness into your life. Stop judging and labeling. Start feeling. Allow people and yourself to act in new, spontaneous ways, letting go of opinions based on past actions. Allow freedom and peace into your life. And try to be impeccable with your word, whether its spoken or thought. Notice thoughts that you have about yourself, the words you use to describe yourself. Where did they come from? Do they serve you well, and help you to live a happy life? ”Like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your world can destroy everything around you. One edge is the misuse of the word, which creates living hell. The other edge is the impeccability of your word, which will only create beauty, love and heaven on earth” Don Miguel Ruiz