Thursday, March 22, 2012

Talking. Should it be blah, blattering, blabbering, spontaneous, nasty. Or channelised?

The last few days I have been pondering over how to deal with over-talkative, exuberant or demonstrantive students.

It is a peculiar problem that happens when as a teacher you are talking to hold a class in place. Some students mistake this for an invitation to keep adding to this volume, and launch off, hoping to have a two-way dialogue!!

I thought of a few students I have currently and planned, before the week started, to urge them to contain their excessive spontaneity on the mat and in the class.

But interestingly, though I had a long list of things I wished to say, and also how to say it,  I sat over to think back on  my experience as a Vipassana practitioner,  including the first time.  It amazed me that though we were required to be silent, we could still communicate without words. It was quite peaceful that way. Effortless. It was also very intriguing for me, this experience the first time. Though later, I have been pleasantly surprised to continue to experience the magic of that sort of getting one's message through, with gestures, just the body language, at all those times I have been at the Vipassana silent retreats.   As required, I could not (and though in some rooms this rule was often flouted),  I have never spoken to my roommate  but we could yet communicate very important things that two complete strangers need to, when sharing a tiny cabin. It was amazing for me: u could communicate a lot, without words. Two complete strangers, in a cabin, under the intense pressure of that sort of full-day meditation!! Wow!!
So, yes, what I also learnt was that if  the cues are not taken,the other person is deaf to you and even spoken words will not get through.  Words are the last, possibly the desperate,  resort. This week that beautiful experience of Vipassana seems to make so much sense to me. I used to think that sort of wordless communication happened specially only in the Vipassana centers, because everybody was sort of tuned to that. But now, this week,   as I go through my classes I realise that this is just a matter of you deciding you wish for something to be understood and you really don't need words to get that through. .... Because it is almost a week since I decided that I want more meditative classes, that I want the excessively verbose ones to become involuted and become silent.  And it seems that without me having to use spoken words, which really is often misunderstood, this message seems to get through.  I feel better already for that .. and the talkative ones, who missed the point on my expensive  white board (see below for yogic thought from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika:) caught the value of what was expected without me having to give them the lecture I was planning to.

Below, an Indian tale, to explain this fragile subject of communicating without words, from an article I wrote long ago:

(Goddess Matangi, image from this site)
It is intriguing that the wisdom goddess Uccishtha-Matangi is placed at the throat. She is said to be a version of Parvati which sanctifies what is otherwise considered polluted. Another story has it that she was created from the left-overs of a meal enjoyed by Shiva, Parvati, Vishnu and Lakshmi. This beautiful maiden born from scraps acts as a low-caste woman who also asks to partake of the left-overs from the divine meal. Granting her wish, Shiva says that her worshippers will divinize themselves with her support and gain control over enemies within. In yoga, spoken words and thoughts are considered part of vrittis, waves. These ebb and flow relentlessly, creating a storm that keeps us away from experiencing divinity. Gaining control over speech and thoughts is thus considered a critical step in the ladder of spiritual evolution. Doing poses like sarvangasana therefore helps us control over the unclean parts of ourselves which, if not modulated and managed properly (like the rampant hormones) can greatly mar our individual growth.


1 comment:

evnathan said...

A beautiful write up on the importance of silence. Everywhere in our scriptures it is said that to realise God one has to remain in silence. There was a Dutchman, who"practised silence and when he met Rabindranath Tagore in London, Tagore wanted him at Shantiniketan to teach silence !After the visit to Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi,he acquired the name "Sunyata"and remained in India, mostly in the Himalayas, as a silent muni.

Indi now badly needs teachers to teach silence really.