Tag Archives: semantics

Eliminate the Negative

Relaxed wrist

Language is important. Negative language can have a powerful effect on who we are talking to. And probably an effect that we really don’t want.

Let me start with a real life example.

I was practicing qigong with a new teacher. We didn’t really know each other and it was just practice, not a class. I was following his movements and when we got to one of the movements he said “Don’t bend your wrists like that.” All qi flow stopped. What should I do? Fortunately, I remembered another teacher that when making a similar movement had suggested in a gentle and general way to “relax the joints and flex the wrists just slightly.” What a difference the two approaches had on me. In the latter I was given a better way. In my head I was saying “Yes, that is nice. It feels good.”

Negative statements frequently leave us with nothing to do. There is no action to take. It leaves us feeling powerless. Positive statements that suggest an action give us something to do. When we are about to make a negative statement we can take an extra second and think of a way to say what we want positively, in a gentle and encouraging way. Instead of telling a child not to run around, we can tell them to please walk. I heard a mother tell a group of rowdy teenagers in a grocery store to please be mindful of the people around them and behave in a courteous manner. Using positive statements make us feel better as well. It’s a kinder way. Using positive words opens our hearts.

Next we need to apply this to the way we talk to ourselves. Be positive and kind. Tell yourself what you want to do, how you want to act.

I started thinking about this subject a long time ago, but recently at TEDx Maui 2013 there were two talks related in some way to this idea.

Kim Rosen: Remembering Our First Language: Poetry As Medicine For Our Time

Jenelle Peterson: Engaging Students In Conversations That Matter

 

Water as Metaphor

Calm Waters in Surrey Maine

 

I feel inspired to write a bit about water. I might even say compelled. It was on my blog list in a vague way, but circumstances kept bringing the theme to the top. I seem attracted to water metaphors in picking quotes to inspire me in my blog.

My second blog post, Bad at Meditation, referred to thoughts that interrupt meditation as  jetsam on the river. In preparing the most recent photo challenge blog, Home is…, I realized that I think of water as home or at least a large part of home. When I refer to water I tend to refer to it in a natural form – ocean, river, pond. When I practice qigong the movements frequently flow like I am in the water or I am water.

Recently, I read an article that talked about being like water. It suggested being like water to adapt to our environment just as water takes the shape of the vessel it is in. I like the “be like water” idea but I’m not as attracted to the idea of taking the shape of the vessel. I do understand the meaning but it doesn’t resonate with me.

I prefer this quote from a Sheng Zhen booklet Messages of Love. The poem is entitled Stilling the Mind. My favorite part is

Do not keep agitating

The waters of your mind.

Do not hold what you do

Dropping it over and over

Into the clear waters of your mind

Endlessly making ripples

 

Let go of what you do

Let it go like a pebble dropping, sinking

To the bottom of the lake.

If you do not chase it

If you do not plunge in after it

The ripples of it’s passing

Will once again return to stillness.

 

This is the kind of metaphor that works for me.  “The ripples of it’s passing/Will once again return to stillness”  is so clear to me.  Different metaphors resonate with different people.  Tell me the ones that resonate with you.

LINKS:

Stilling the Mind (complete poem)

The article that refers to water taking the shape of the vessel, Increasing Happiness with Tai Chi and Qigong, by Jeff Simonton,  is from Yang Sheng Magazine, a big favorite of mine.  Sometimes it is very technical but frequently just plain practical.

H2O Water and Five Elements post 2/2/13

 

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