Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If you can't say something nice ...

I love it that Sonny Rollins spent so much time playing his saxophone on the Williamsburg bridge. His decision to do so was very practical - he could play as loudly as he wanted without disturbing anyone. He's a sensitive guy, oh yeah.

What I love about it, though, is thinking about how he poured beauty out into the world every day (weather permitting). Water carries sound powerfully - so there's a way in which, even moreso than in concert, by standing on the bridge and playing his ass off, he was able to infuse the world with his beautiful music. (Here's a tiny pic of him playing on the bridge.)

Something else I love: when people think before they speak. I believe the Buddhists call it "right speech." Oh yeah.

I hear stories every day from clients and friends about alleged healers, including doctors, psychic readers, midwives, massage therapists and every other kind of healer, of the most heinously NOT RIGHT speech. It gets on my last nerve.

Not saying here that I am always in synch with right speech, but when someone is lying on the treatment table, disrobed and vulnerable, I am VERY careful about what I say. When people put themselves into a passive yoga like that, in order to receive healing, anything I say is likely to go in at a deep level.

One of my friends and teachers sometimes asks people who say stupid things, "What kind of reaction were you hoping to achieve by saying that?" This is a smart question - wow - and perhaps easier to ask when one is upright, fully clothed and coherent. Among friends, or during a lively discussion, things are often said too hastily, or thoughtlessly. I've stuffed my foot in my mouth repeatedly in social situations, oh yeah.

But for healers, there should be a filter, always, always. What we say is like Sonny Rollins playing his saxophone under the bridge: it goes out into the world, into the hearts of our clients. There is no way to take it back. What we say should be as beautiful as possible. Or we should keep our mouths shut.

May we all speak thoughtfully whenever we can! So may it be. Shalom.


Jo said...

What a beautiful man Sonny Rollins looks to be!

Filters on our speech? Those are all but gone these days, gone the way of civil discourse, respectful debate, and polite Socratic questioning.

Unfortunately, this unattractive turn of events has influenced everyone, even those who should know better. I can give you a few examples of horrid speech used by MDs who have clearly been trained in every aspect of medicine but human relations.

Any "healer" who uses careless speech while with a client has a different agenda other than healing.

In that case, I would only say, "Cura te ipsum!" (Physician, heal thyself!)

tsk, tsk.

Val said...

Reya even your blog words go in at a deep level!

those irises (irisii?) are so extraordinarily beautiful

Reya Mellicker said...

I always wonder what the plural of iris is, too.

Thanks, Jo. The things I've heard that MDs have told my clients ... it boils my ass just to imagine it!!

ellen abbott said...

MDs are not healers. well, some are, it's not an absolute. but in my experience, people are mostly not patients but income.

Reya Mellicker said...

I think of MDs as mechanics, applying a very specific technique regardless of the individual quirks of their patients. I know some very good ones.

However, someone should teach them - and massage therapists AND psychic healers, etc. how to talk to people. For God's sake.

Elizabeth said...


Like when people ask stuff you'd rather not answer:
Is there a particular reason you need to know that?

I'm sure YOU are the essence of tact.
I think some people lack social filters and just say the first thing that pops out.......
Few people, I choose to believe, do it to wound others....
I was thinking the other day of the expression "tongue-lashing" and how awful and hurtful it is to be yelled at.

Other than all that depressing stuff, leaves are appearing, it is almost 50'F (WOW!)
Shalom, namaste, salaam aleikum and all good things for the season.

The Bug said...

Oh I am SO guilty of speaking without thinking! I tend to be brutally honest when that happens & woe to the person I'm speaking to. Sigh. It's a fault that I'm working on.

On the other hand, I do know how to be polite. I just sometimes lose my grip on my mouth.

Reya Mellicker said...

I think it's perfectly OK to be honest, especially if you first think about what impact you are hoping to have.

With friends I say whatever I want; they are resilient and can bounce back when I say something stupid, but with clients? I am very mindful.

Dan Gurney said...

Wise speech... to me is so often about not saying what I was about to say.

Also this, not written by me, but a brother/sister Buddhist:

What is Wise Speech?
It is abstaining from false speech.
It is abstaining from deceptive speech.
It is abstaining from harmful speech.
It is abstaining from slanderous speech.
It is abstaining from harsh speech.
It is abstaining from idle chatter.
It is the cultivation of truthful speech.
It is the cultivation of helpful speech.
It is the cultivation of speech on Dharma.

Anil P said...

So much of what one says is about timing, and about the situation.

Filters on speech are a must, but hopefully not to the extent they impede spontaneity.

Maybe over time, filters can and do become second nature with how we perceive and hence how we react. Perception drives thought.

Reya Mellicker said...

Dan thank you!

Anil I think a microsecond of thoughtfulness BEFORE speaking makes a world of difference very time.

Pam said...

Husband and I often remind each other, raised eyebrow "Now is that practicising right speech?...mmmm?", and the answer is usually a shame-faced no.
Works well with some, note some, of the high school students too. They get a giggle out of it, but definitely take it on board. For the others it's not a question but a demand "Right speech Franklin. Right speech", as you sigh down the corridors and think you can but try.

Kerry said...

It is hard for people to step outside their own heads and hear what they are saying to others. It's a special skill, and surprising that it isn't taught along with everything else in medical school.

Pauline said...

Great post :) My Memere used to say, "Before you speak, ask yourself - is it kind, is it necessary, is it true? If the answer to all three is not yes, do not say it."

I often tell that to the kids at school when they say unkind things to each other, thinking it didn't do me any harm to hear it.