Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mindfulness in speech

This is a topic dear to me because I end up talking a lot at work..:)Being a project manager, my role requires quite a lot of interaction - tons of emails, frequent meetings with teams and phone calls. I am not sure about others but for me, it is very easy to loose mindfulness once I am off cushion and deep into daily routine. It is specially difficult to be mindful while talking to others since the process demands an instantaneous reaction to what some one says. I can do better when I am reading and replying to emails or doing something on my desk by myself.

Incidentally, I was doing some digging into sutta pitaka and came across "The Abhaya Sutta", This is where Buddha is talking about speech to Prince Abhaya and basically he is saying that one should be careful to only say things that are factual, true, beneficial, and endearing & agreeable to others. At times something could be factual, true, beneficial but not endearing & agreeable to others and for this, he advises us to wait for the right time to say such a thing. A simple formula but so powerful! I think most people do try to say factual and truthful things most of the time but how many of us think if it is beneficial to the listener? Endearing & agreeable being even lower on list. If we can be mindful of these simple attributes, how much effective can our speech be!


  1. Right speech.
    May we all be mindful more often.
    Thanks for this lovely post.
    Love the site.
    With Metta,

  2. Taru, I would like to share a couple of my favorite discourses from Master Dogen on this subject:

    Love Words

    Kind Speech


  3. A couple oldies but goodies vis a vis mindfulness in day to day life:

    Thich Nhat Hahn's The Miracle of Mindfulness
    Seeking the Heart of Wisdom by Kornfield and Goldstein.

    And my own chapter on practice isn't bad.

  4. Thanks Molly, Jordan and Paul...:)

    Molly - your blog is beautiful.

    Jordan - thanks for sharing master dogen's words..they are always so inspiring.

    Paul - your story amazed me.

    I have been thinking about practical ways of being mindful in speech. Today again, I said something that I regretted later. With speech, it requires instantenous you guys have any tricks up your sleeves that help you maintain mindfulness with speech?

  5. Taru, thank you for bringing up "Strategies" for right speech. It is a very important aspect of my practice. Like most things "Zen" I start with my own internal chat box. After a while of paying attention, I started recognizing when the observer in my head began its criticizing, complaining and other unhelpful stuff. So I started working there, trying to inhibit or curb that line of thinking with more productive thought. Since then I have to admit I am getting better!

    All the best,

  6. Bingo! Right speech, skillful speech, right action, skillful action! Thank you, Taru.