Recently I accompanied a friend to a book signing of “Who Are You” by Felicity Green. The author, a slim woman in her eighties with a wise face and knowing eyes, was my friend’s first yoga teacher. She and my friend shared a rich history and had not seen each other in some time, so I slipped away to allow them private communication.
Communication was a repeating theme that afternoon. Eyes met and smiles were exchanged as I wove my way through the attendees. Crossing the room, I walked through clouds of conversation, bits of information about the author and her teachings floating into my ears. It soon became clear that most, if not all who attended, were her students. Some of them had been for decades.
I helped myself to some chai tea and we grabbed blankets to soften the cold bars on the backs of the metal folding chairs. As everyone was getting settled I heard some people expressing happiness that their teacher’s wisdom and favorite quotes were now collected together in one place. Others spoke to how they had been inspired by some of her life experiences she included in the book.
As a lifelong learner, I remain open to all sources of learning and was truly excited to have the opportunity to reap some wisdom from this woman — someone who had lived a long and rich life and generously shared so much with so many. My grandparents are no longer around to fill this role. I felt grateful to be there.
Felicity’s South African accent rolled into the air as she began to speak of her journey into yoga, and some of the key philosophies covered in her most recent book. Her elegant yet simple delivery imparted not just the information she was sharing, but also a sense of her clear teaching style. I could tell as she spoke that she was someone who took a new thought and turned it into an action.
At one point she spent some time talking about the need to meet our challenges. Moving through my own struggles and challenges, I’ve learned the value of turning into the eye of emotional storms. It’s the shortest path through. She spoke similarly of resisting the urge to go around challenges but added that meeting every challenge is important for one’s personal growth.
This may sound simple enough — just show up to whatever life throws your way. Okay. Yet it’s amazing how often we don’t do that. On closer examination, rather than meet all of our challenges head-on, we perform all sorts of mental gymnastics to stay within our circumference of comfort.
What could be different if we turned to face each and every one of the things we would rather not face?
This question leads me to the most interesting topic she covered – internal and external communication. She started by sharing a personal story to illustrate her point; while at an Ashram taking a spiritual retreat, she was distraught, believing she had said hurtful things to someone there. She told of how she had begun to behave differently around that person only to find out later that what she had said caused no harm at all. The belief that she had caused hurt was simply a story in her head. This made up story affected her behavior and choices because she saw it as truth.
She shares these details in her book and spoke to what I think of as false versus true communication:
“Two truths here: one, that reality is not what we think, our thinking is always only an interpretation. And two, what we think in reaction to some experiences is what creates our suffering.”
Everyone experiences false communication. When we do, suffering occurs because two different truths play out at the same time. Taking an opportunity to be more mindful in our actions and words is a choice we can make any time.
The holiday season makes communication a ripe topic. Gathering with family and friends provides fertile ground to plant new seeds and do some weeding. Asking the following can help you explore ways to prevent false communication:
– How can I be more mindful of how I communicate?
– Where can I discover opportunities to clean up past miscommunications?
– Do I need to check what someone heard with what I actually said?
– What steps can I take to prevent future misunderstandings?
The season of giving is a great time to explore communication adjustments. I invite you to write down what comes to mind when you explore the questions above, then give yourself a gift:
Take something you discover and turn it into an action.
You can find her book on Amazon by clicking here: