The change within
Listen more, speak less
“You’ve changed.” Has anyone ever said this to you? When I heard this, it provoked a self-conscious shrug. Yet why so? It is our birthright to evolve. Ironically Jamie Bussin, (el jefe at Tonic) asked me to write on any revelations or changes that came up within my yoga practice. So I decided to address a recent comment.
“You’ve changed. I guess all that standing on your head has made you nicer.”
For a little background, that observation came from a family member. Families often have collapsed boundaries. In all fairness, that comment was in tune with our classic Long Island vernacular, so he meant no harm. I guess. Americans speak their mind and Long Islanders do so with extra zest.
As these are my people, the correct response is to thrust a backhanded compliment right back. The method is to remain witty yet raise the stakes in a personal attack. This is my hometown repertoire. So the dance goes. ...Press pause.
Living in the oppressively polite Toronto has had a positive effect on my manners. Yoga enhanced the DNA of my communication style. Yet not from practicing a headstand.
Yoga has an ethical code that encourages us to see all dimensions of our Self. This holds our mental, physical, and subtle body.
The most profound shift was my readiness for internal inquiry. Self-study (svadhyaya) is the practice of examining your behaviours and habits. It’s about reacting less to external stimuli. Svadhyaya is the practice of inquiring into our true nature.
My time reading passages from Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh has helped me shed old stories. There is a universal understanding that Yoga is a path of unification, and “one is all.” To go further is to say we are all “interconnected” or in a dynamic state of “inter-being.” These are relatively new words conceptualized by peace activist Thích Nhất Hạnh. His encouragement of metta (loving kindness) in our speech has shifted my behaviour in subtle ways. In my relationships, I strive for qualities of satya or truthfulness. An honest question for me was, “what do I want to call into my life?”
Through svadhyaya I was able to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses. I asked myself to listen, learn more and speak less. My goal was to truly contemplate another point of view without resistance. Thich’s reassurance that compassionate speech and deep listening opens the gates of understanding was true. I learned more about the people I cared about, simply by listening.
It is important to mention that this subtle shift into loving speech takes time to cultivate. I still like to drop the F-bomb. Road rage is real. Old habits die hard, yet I have experienced eureka moments through conflict resolution. This encourages me to continue on this yogic path.
Jodi Fischtein is a mixed lineage yoga teacher, loving the many aspects of Ashtanga, Prana Flow vinyasa and Yin yoga. She has Thai Yoga massage training and is currently immersed in MBSR protocols at University of Toronto. Through the dedicated work of Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, Jodi experienced a shift that speaks to inner peace. Being a mother of four opened the gates to empathy. With the practice of deep listening she is able to better understand her yoga community.