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The Power of Words in Our Pursuit of Compassion

MalaforVets Blog

Follow the Pursuit of Compassion.

The Power of Words in Our Pursuit of Compassion

Chris Eder

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In 1982, Dale Bazio (RE: Original Lady Gaga) rocked my world.  I was 10!  Dale is the lead singer for the LA band Missing Persons. On their album Spring Session M they had a song titled, "Words." In 1982, I had...well...no words to describe what I thought.  Little did I know some 34 years late, this very song would still have an effect on me.

I am a trained communicator.  Hell...I'm an award winning communicator.  So..why is it that I have such a hard time communicating?  

The other day I was at an Indian restaurant.  Mango Grove, in Columbia Md, if you're ever in the area.  The food was great and the service was amazing.  They were also playing some sweet music.  After devouring my dish and like a gentleman...helping my wife with hers, the (Indian) waiter asked with a grin; if there was any room for dessert? I looked him right in the eyes, smiled...and with a bellow of a laugh said, "I wish!"  He and I shared a laugh, but he didn't go away.  There was an awkward pause and then he said, "So, should I bring the dessert menu?"

Interesting post about how much of our communication is based on verbal/non-verbal communication over on The NonVerbal Group.  I know as a trained communicator and someone who taught Voice and Diction to aspiring military broadcast Journalists at the Defense Information School, just how important clear, appropriate, and understandable communication is. I believe I'm an expert at using inflection and tone as key indicators as to the true meaning of my communication.  I now know after wearing hearing aids for the past five months...just how loud I actually am...so I know he heard me!  So...what happened? 

 

 

The fact of the matter is that the exact number is irrelevant. Knowing that communication is specifically 75% nonverbal or 90% nonverbal holds no practical applications. The important part is that most communication is nonverbal. In fact, nonverbal behavior is the most crucial aspect of communication. - Blake from The NonVerbal Group

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This isn't the first time something like this has happened to me.  Of course dessert...or no dessert is a laughable matter. However, this happens all the time now.  It is very irritating.  In fact, I would say that it often leads to some form of confrontation.  This happens between me and the person I'm talking with...and sometimes just an internal battle.

Did I say what I thought I said?

Did I respond appropriately?  Did I respond?

Why didn't I get an email?

There is a serious internal battle brewing inside me these days.  It saddens me...it frustrates me...it envelops me!  How is this possible?  I'm a yogi!  I teach this stuff!

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The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali lay out the foundational text of yoga.  It it, you will find the 8 Limbs of Yoga which basically offers guidelines for a meaningful and purposeful life.  On the list, a series of five Yamas that provide tips/suggestions to relate to others in this world...think do/don't, or if you have military experience...a code of conduct.  Key of these Yamas...Ahimsa!

 

In general, this is the non-violence yama.  It is likened to non-harming of all living beings. It is a precept in living a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle.  Take a deeper look and you will find that we should apply Ahimsa...if you will...to our thoughts, words and actions.  Each play a key role in pursuit of compassion.  Thoughts can cause internal damage and put you in a stuck loop of negative ideation.  Words sting!  They can cause permanent damage to those you love.  Actions do speak louder than words. We already know that non-verbal communication composes the majority of our total communication. 

Finding the right words...and sometimes...just words is very difficult for me.  People who suffer from PTS have an over stimulated amygdala. The part of the brain responsible for attention and responses.  Over time, the ability to recall known information decreases.  When this started happening to me...I thought I had Alzheimers.  Thinking and concentration become tougher.  You begin to mis-interpret what others are saying or doing, thus you react incorrectly. This in most cases begins the loop of poor communication.

In my quiet moments, it is very easy for me to be compassionate.  In my quite moments, it is easy to remind myself to be compassionate.  However, when the actual communication begins...I struggle.  I struggle to be attentive.  I struggle to find the words.  I struggle to understand.  I find myself asking, "what do you mean?"

In my broadcast journalism classes, I would teach the importance of choosing the right words.  In journalism...and in life they are crucial.  Pick the wrong word and your message is weak, or maybe too strong.  Say the wrong word and you will lose credibility.  Words have power.  They can bring you business, sway opinion...or tarnish you...or someone else...for life!  

Today...I would like to add the importance of your actions...as they make up a larger portion of your communication.  IF you have PTS...you are not off the hook here!  You too are responsible for your actions.  I know how difficult is.  I understand the struggle.  Perhaps take a breath before you respond/react.  Think COMPASSION.  If you find yourself talking with someone who is being vague, absent-minded, not connected...maybe even rude...take a moment...take a breath.  There is a possibility he/she is suffering and work hard just to find the right thing to say or do.  Be COMPASSIONATE.

Choose wisely!

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