I was recently talking to a yoga instructor I met from Brazil and he shared with me that talking badly about people and gossiping are strongly discouraged in his style of yoga. This made me think for a moment…hmmmm, is it okay in any style of yoga to talk badly about people? Of course not…duh! But am I applying this to my daily life? And is it emphasized enough in the yoga community? Regardless if you practice yoga, we all learn from a very young age that “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” I reflected on my long and complicated love affair with gossip. I thought about the countless times I have told a secret that I shouldn’t have, talked about people in a negative way and suffered consequences in my relationships because of it.
I turned to The Heart of Yoga by TKV Desikachar for a specific philosophical yogic principal discouraging gossip. I was seeking a mantra that I could repeat in my head to stop me from my freewheeling smack talk. The second Yama (a discipline or behavior) is called Satya. Defined simply, Satya means “to speak the truth.” It also states that Satya teaches us to “consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others.”
Looking for even more encouragement and strength to keep me on my new gossip free path, I also turned to a great book that my mother gave to me in college called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The first of these simple but powerful agreements is to BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD. At first glance I didn’t really understand it’s full meaning until I read on:
“Your word is the power that you have to create.
Through the word you express your creative power.
It is through the word that you manifest everything.
What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are,
will all be manifested through the word.
Depending on how it is used, the word can set you free
or it can enslave you even more than you know.
All the magic you possess is based on your word.
Your word is pure magic, and misuse of your word is black magic.”
Well…when you put it that way! Even though we all know it is not okay to spread gossip and say nasty things, it still happens. For me what the above words convey is how powerful NOT gossiping can be. Instead of wasting time and words talking sh$@ about people, we can use our words to make our lives and our relationships so much more magical and special. Thinking before we speak, choosing our words carefully, and being keenly aware that the things we say have an impact on those around us are simple ideas that if honored will help to bring us all more happiness and healthier relationships.
When we screw up once in a while – no big deal. Just like in class when we get disconnected from our breath, it’s always there for us to come back to. Satya and the intention of being impeccable with our word is always there. When you get disconnected for a moment, just go back to it and more joy in life is sure to come…
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