I used to not speak.

My truth, that is.

The bitterness in my mouth better than the mayhem my words would create. A Kurukshetra type of chaos going on inside. 

Do you know the power that each syllable, stringed one after the other together with vowels have? Like an invisible necklace of strength. You get to choose when and how to place it around your neck. How tight. How long. Its potency not only limited to you, but extending to the one listening as well. And the space in between. Think about it for a moment, the same mouth that pronounces I love you, is capable of shooting the grossest insults. What makes us stop from saying one thing, yet gives us the lucidity to verbalize others? Is there some kind of words’ ethics we all instinctually follow, because life? 

Come to think of it, at times shouting can be a good thing. An act of kindness, really. Like if you are about to be run over by a car, for instance, and I see it happening I can warn you with my screaming to get out of the way. 

There is a past behind me that is full of grey holes. Some are still stuck in my memory somewhere, while others have disappeared thanks to I don’t know what. Memory loss? Divine Grace? Time? At any rate. I am only going back there for the purpose of this post, because writing has been my favorite healing place for some time now. I love how smooth the letters look on the screen. By clicking on the keyboard a little piece of the past goes poof outta here. Like waving a magic wand. 

So here I am.

There are places of darkness that belong to the person I longer am. They are full of unsaid words, of phrases stuck in the throat, of images not translated into anything, for the sake of keeping the peace. Because that’s what a mother ought to do. I’ve come to realize there is an innate sense of preservation we all long for. We all want to feel good, to avoid pain. In fact two of the five klesha- afflictions- of us folks, address just that. Raga, attachments to pleasurable things & to people, and its close friend dvesha– aversions, avoidance of unpleasant experiences summarize a bit of the human condition. 

Instinctually we know that once the words take shape, when our voice catapults them into something audible all hell can and will break loose. I used to live like this. With this fear lurking on my sunken shoulders. For years. Tip-toeing around should I say it out loud or should I keep quiet? I opted for the second option, the safest one. Always. I mastered level expert at sashaying my feeble way out of answering what I really wanted to say. Like a belly dancer without the smile. Who wants to be shouted at, scolded, humiliated, punished? There will be the perfect time to let it all out. At some point. And so silence it was. 

In the back of my mind I was thinking about the children. How they would take the bickering that inevitably would turn into raised voices, mean words spoken out of anger, or hurt. Or jet-lag or who knows. Let’s keep it all as quiet as possible. Let’s let the words die in the dry mouth, lets’ shuffle self-esteem and standing up for yourself a little bit more under the already dirty rug. 

And so time passed. The unspoken words turned into unsaid years of sadness, of inner darkness that only fueled my turning inward. Like a crab, its head hidden inside, because it’s too dangerous out there. My practice became my sanctuary, my go to place to give life to the unspoken phrases, to let my hair down and my feelings run wild. (I talk more about how devotion saved my life here.)

Fast forward to today. Twenty plus years have gone by and I almost don’t recognize who I was anymore. A distant memory that feels like a separate life. I say “almost” because seldom glimpses of that darkness pops up out of nowhere. It could be when I talk with a student, or to someone who comes around asking for guidance. It’s a brief moment, though, like a flash dancing out of the sunny mountain sky. Everything is temporary, as you know.

Get to the moral of the story, Elena. 

There is a tendency these days especially in the western yoga world, to say, “Speak your truth. Free your throat chakra. As long as it comes from the heart you can say what you really mean.” And I’m here to tell you that this is not true. It’s easy to speak pretty words when you are not caught in a situation in which doing the above things would create more havoc than bring any change, let alone peace.

There is also a word in Sanskrit the yogi like to use, viveka विवेक – discernment. Here it’s a perfect example of how to apply it in your off-the-mat world, aka life. Discern, evaluate, ask yourself, “Is this the right time for me to say what I really want to? What would be the repercussion if I did? Are others involved in the equation? Then.and.only.then. choose. No one better than yourself knows when it’s safe to go for it, or to wait for divine timing to unfold. Listen to that gut feeling and follow its advice. For the greater good of all. 

Thanks for reading❤️

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