In college I majored in linguistics and French. I have worked as a speech-langauge pathologist for almost a decade. I love writing. I have had a good deal of personal experiences with conflict, conflict resolution and practice in self-expression. So I think it is fair to say that language examined is a centerpiece in my life.
Today, during my “quiet time” which I set aside for prayer, meditation, and/or inner work I encountered the irony of calling it that. It began when, in a moment of feeling the past and future drift away and resting only in my present and constant connection to God, I had an urge to verbally express the wave of gratitude and peace that was overcoming me. I began to speak.
But instead of remaining in the motion of that beautiful moment, the feeling of connection lessened. With the words out of my mouth, I was fully in my physical body again…using my vocal folds to create sounds, my mouth to create words, my brain to put it all together in an order that makes sense to someone outside of me… I was no longer in that wave of unspoken gratitude and love where God and I meet in heart and spirit.
I thought, Okay, I’ll stop talking for now and just be in this moment. After all, I’ve done that many many times. I figured it would be easy. I returned to a place of connection and did not open my mouth to speak. But the linguistic mind is an amazing thing. We think in words. We can have an entire conversation in our heads without uttering a sound. Even though I had silenced my mouth, my mind continued to talk about what was happening.
Mind 1: What a wonderful feeling this connection is. Thank you for this moment with you, God.
Mind 2: Shhhh…. Stop talking. Just feel it!
Mind 1: Okay. I’ll stop. I’ll stop talking so that we can just feel. Ready? Okay on the count of three we’ll just start feeling and not putting words to everything like we always do. No words. Just sensation. Wait, would it be “sensation” or “feeling?” Maybe we should just call it “experience?” No, I’ve got it. “Being.” That’s good.
Mind 2: Shhhhhhhh!!!! You’re missing it!
Eventually, I was able to be in a place of even mental non-talk. Not completely and constantly–it’s a hard habit to break!–but to a much greater degree than ever before. I just was. All feeling of gratitude or love in my heart, in the moment of being felt, was already being communicated. No words necessary. As people drifted through my mind with a feeling of connection and appreciation, I let go of the need to open my mouth to pray for them. Instead, I rested with them in that beingness and we were completely known to one another and to God. God knew all I would have prayed for them as I just let myself remain silently in that state of supplication. I could “hear” insight without processing it as language. I just knew what was being relayed.
When your sense of self is no longer tied to thought, is no longer conceptual, there is a depth of feeling, of sensing, of compassion, of loving, that was not there when you were trapped in mental concepts. You are that depth.
– Eckhart Tolle
It was new and beautiful.
There is a time for language. I hold fast to my belief that there is a time for powerful verbal prayer. There is a character that is built through the practice of careful selection of words. But there is also a time for silence, a time for our spirit to drift with the waves and just be.
In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.