Recently finished Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa. His insight and guidance into the way we might approach our spiritual path has been a relief to me over the past month in the moments when I begin to struggle against myself.
On trying to change yourself…
It is a matter of being what you really are [sic] because the idea of
having an operation and fundamentally changing yourself is completely unrealistic.
No one can really change your personality absolutely. The existing material, that which is already there, must be used.
You must accept yourself as you are, instead of as you would like to be, which means giving up self-deception and wishful thinking.
Your whole make-up and personality characteristics must be recognized, accepted, and then you might find some inspiration.
On communication and openness…
The process of communication can be beautiful, if we see it in terms of simplicity and precision. Every pause made in the process of speaking becomes a kind of punctuation.
Speak, allow space, speak, allow space. It does not have to be a formal and solemn occasion necessarily, but it is beautiful that you are not rushing, that you are not talking at tremendous speed, raucously.
We do not have to churn out information and then stop suddenly with a feeling of let-down in order to get a response from the other person. We could do things in a dignified and proper way.
Just allow space. Space is as important in communicating to another person as talking.
You do not have to overload the other person with words and ideas and smiles all at once. You can allow space, smile, say something, and then allow a gap, and then talk, and then space, punctuation.
You do not have to be self-conscious and rigid about allowing space; just feel the natural flow of it.
Generally, when we speak, we do not simply want to communicate to the other person, but we want a response as well. We want to be fed by the other person, which is a very egocentric way of communicating.
We have to give up this desire to be fed, and then the gap automatically comes. We cannot produce the gap through effort.
I especially love this advice about communicating with an openness that makes room for spontaneity and authentic back-and-forth with another person.
This is an area in which I’ve put effort into developing for myself over the past couple of years.
As a young girl, I struggled and was embarrassed by my tendency to stutter. I would become so excitable when trying to communicate my ideas that my words would rush and trip and fall out of my mouth and be caught up and dammed inside my brain by stuttering.
“Slow down!” was something I was accustomed to hearing from the adults in my life.
As I grew, I learned to catch the stutters before they came out, but my brain would create lags for me.
I would be rendered as if on pause for a moment or two, while I consciously allowed my brain time to catch up to my body’s physical linguistic tools, tongue, mouth and teeth.
As an adult, that communication barrier has faded away, but open communication is still a challenge for me.
My vocabulary is wide reaching, and yet, when I find myself in moments that require complete openness and the opportunity to express my deepest needs, I often find it difficult to form thoughts into concrete sentences that the other person would be able to digest.
My thoughts become very abstract and I’ll often end the conversation with the hope that I might be able to come back to the person at a later time with clearer thoughts.
Then I’ll go and begin writing and all of the words and thoughts will come together so clearly on paper. I attribute this to a block in my throat chakra energy and work on clearing and opening that space during dance classes, yoga and meditation.
I concentrate on breathing fully and completely into my throat space and envision the breath traveling all the way from my root chakra up through my heart chakra and into and out of the throat area.
And still, I struggle with what Chögyam describes as “overloading” people with my thoughts and words. However, I don’t aim to erase this part of who I am, but rather I work to transmute the tendency.
This is because I know that beyond it being pointless to try and become a totally different person, I truly believe that my ability to arouse excitement and passion around the things and people I am engaged with is one of my most powerful gifts.
And so I’ll end with a hope that we’re all able to cultivate mindful and open communication with ourselves and the people we encounter today.