First control the speech, then the mind

Oct 7, 2019

QUESTION

Hi Robina,

Hope you are well. 

Thanks for the advice at the retreat. Just wanted to say that I have been watching my speech and it’s hard! Lol.

With warm regards,

L

 

ANSWER

We often don’t even think that speech is important. “I’m allowed to say what I like,” we think, with little thought to the consequences – not only to others but to ourselves.

For the Buddha, the first level of practice is our behavior, our body and speech. This even sounds boring to us! Oh, I want to meditate, we’ll say. Well, forget about meditation if we can’t even control what comes out of our mouth!

So, are you seeing the benefits of controlling your speech?

 

QUESTION

Hi Robina, 

Hard to say.

We almost broke up last week but that wasn’t to do with us fighting/discussing topics but more how he treated me when he received some bad news.

I guess I am seeing results with noticing how much I throw my opinion around and in turn, have been able to be still and watch myself more. This has probably helped in my relationship and deescalated arguments/discussions when I have been able to see them getting heated.

It’s just hard to say as there are a lot of moving parts.

Overall, I’ve been able to notice when and when not to say things and what impact saying (or not) could have. Not all the time lol but I’m working on being more still. I’m not sure if that’s the goal either but thats my thoughts so far. 

With warm regards, 

L

 

ANSWER

L, what do you mean by, “how he treated me when he received some bad news”?

 

QUESTION

It’s complicated and I don’t remember all the details but some idea would be he gets angry at me (probably from what I say to him). So something like he got bad news, we’d talk about it, I’d say something he didn’t like or insensitive and he would get angry at me. I’m not trying to get him angry or annoyed but just saying how I feel the situation could be seen or alternatives (probably something I shouldn’t be doing). I’d apologise and try to explain what I meant but he doesn’t hear it. We miscommunicated often and I’m not sure how to fix it – I can say what he means back to him and he agrees (most the time). But when I ask him to say what I mean back to me he can’t and it’s like he hears something else.

I can see I am the cause of this by not shutting up or letting someone be but I struggle with being with someone who is upset often or at least often by me, especially when he thinks what I said isn’t what I said or meant. I’m not sure if I always can watch what I say and be happy… although he is probably a good teacher for me for that. 

So when he hears bad news this is amplified.

Also, this is only one layer of a complex situation and relationship so I’m not sure how to present this accurately.

With warm regards,

L

 

ANSWER

Dearest L,

Actually, it’s not complicated. If you’re having problems it’s because of attachment and aversion — bottom line. It’s sounds simplistic to our complicated Western minds.

So the key is to not analyze the other person’s words etc — that’s their problem. You have to notice your mind and watch your words.

It’s like you’re playing tennis and you’re complaining about the person’s shots when they hit the ball back to you. Your job is to pay attention to your own shots. In other words, stop wanting them to play different tennis: that’s their tennis, that’s who they are. Your job is to work with what they hit to you and improve your own tennis.

It’s a very powerful and simple analogy.

Think about it and tell me your thoughts.

 

QUESTION

Hi Robina, 

Thanks for your words. I liked to sit on it for a few days and digest what you say so I hope you don’t think I’m rude with my slow replies. I find my first reaction is often different after I’ve had a while to contemplate what you’ve said. This time was no different lol 🙂

I hear you and that is true. It took until about the third day for that sink in, mind you lol. I had a bit of an “ah-ha!” moment while driving… I thought “Why can I control my thoughts and reactions in a lot of other situations but not when it comes to my boyfriend?… Why do I get sucked into a reaction? Why do I take it so personally?” It was a very interesting thought while I was driving – I even remember the stress at the back of my head ease.

I compared it to how I would react if someone treated me the same way at work – I wouldn’t let it touch me as much and would just think “that’s them and this is me.” I thought about that for a while and I guess in a relationship you get very attached to the other person and seem them as an extension of you. I think it comes from a view that when he gets “emotional” I view being emotional as illogical, over-the-top and “stupid” and I don’t like being associated with someone who is “stupid’ because that might be a reflection of me. So I need to work on that.

The part I struggle with is sometimes I think you need to know when you are playing with someone who outmatches you. I don’t think there is much benefit in playing tennis with someone who can serve the ball faster than you are able to hit it back. I’m not sure how much you will improve from that? I see that this would force me to practice but I’m also not sure if I want such a hard life – that’s where I struggle with this.

Like you can turn anything into practice really and I guess that is half the point in buddhism – it’s about perspective and having a correct view, but it’s how to see whether this is beneficial or not? When do you stop trying to reframe everything and know when your situation isn’t beneficial anymore? That’s also where I struggle. 

With warm regards,

L

 

ANSWER

L, the main thing is this — as we’ve discussed in the teachings.

You have two options: stay or leave. It sounds brutal, but it’s the bottom line.

If you think the relationship is worthwhile, then your practice is clear: first, most urgent, most immediate: control your mouth.

And, longterm, control your mind.

That’s the essence of it.

 

Rxx

 

 

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