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Mindful : October 2016
AD Speak Skillfully Perhaps it’s an understatement to say we live in a world that is in short supply of mindful speech, so we don’t really have clear models to go on. I define mindful speech as speaking authentically from our heart. Usually we just open our mouths and let whatever comes out come out. One friend used to call this “small mouth noises.” Often we speak when we want to fill the space, when we’re uncomfortable, when we don’t know what else to do. With mindful speaking, however, words are spoken with a bit more care and intentionality. We can then, from time to time, verbalize what it is we are mindful of. And this recognition can help increase the capacity to be more mind- ful. So for instance, if I’m having a conversation with someone and it’s making me frustrated, I could verbalize, “ Wow, I notice frustration aris- ing in me as we’re talking.” This is not said in a blaming way: “ You’re pissing me off!” It’s about making conscious what’s happening internally and then expressing it to further the connection. This takes time and practice to do skillfully, so I don’t recommend jumping into it. Just begin to cultivate the inner awareness when you’re talk- ing, and from time to time make some aspect → 1 Speak authentically from our hear t. Can we learn to speak in a way that we feel connected to our inner selves, so that we are expressing what’s true? Now certainly this needs to be well-timed— we’re probably not going to bare our soul to the barista making our coffee. But we can, in appropriate moments, purposefully speak with more intentionality and connection to ourselves. 2 As with mindful listening, we can always return to our bodies to come back to the present moment. When our speech gets disconnected, rambling, unhelpful, lost, we can take a mindful breath, or notice our bodies standing or sitting (or whatever it’s doing). This can return us to the pres- ent moment and potentially reinvigorate our connection to mindful speech. 3 We can always use speech itself to help us be more mind- ful. Again, this is time-sensitive and not always appropriate in every situation, and it’s some- what dependent on the second guideline. If we are tuned in to our body, even a little bit, we can be aware of our inner life as we speak. We can notice our thoughts and emotions and wisely discern when to speak and when not to speak. Guidelines for Mindful Speaking 76 mindful October 2016 insight