Monday, March 2, 2015

Left Wanting

A couple of questions for you:  Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? What do you want for yourself or for others in 2015? Are those New Year's resolutions going how you want them to go? Do you find yourself often "wanting?"

I try to give a lot of attention to language; the language I use outwardly with others, the words I use inwardly with myself, as well as the word choices others use towards me. I love words. I love how words roll off the tip of my pen, how they appear on the screen from the tips of my fingers and how they roll off the tip of my tongue. In the yoga studio, the language we choose sets a tone for the class. It gives students a clear (or unclear) direction. (Lets face it - some of the language used in yoga class is much too vague and defies specific meaning). Being mindful of language is being mindful of the thoughts in your head and how they can affect yourself and others. For example, a couple of years ago during a yoga workshop the class needed yoga blocks. I told the yogis on either side of me that I would be happy to grab one for them while I grabbed one for myself. The instructor noticed my language choice and was quick to (gently) bring awareness to my use of the word 'grab', stating that "We try not to grab things in the studio. Rather, we find or locate or get what we need." Hmmm...I'd never thought about this. The word 'grab' carries with it a feeling of aggression or grasping. It is somewhat desperate; less considerate or mindful. It is not a desirable tone for the yoga studio. I'll give myself a pat on the back here for working hard over the past two years to remove this word from my "yoga lexicon."

More recently, my awareness surrounding language and word choice was piqued during a holiday stay with friends in New Zealand. The constant monologue spewing from my youthful offspring centered around what they wanted for Christmas. "I want this. I want that." It was constant and desperate. The idea of Santa misunderstanding their location had the boys on the edge of anxiety. Kirsten - one of our hosts - asked my oldest if he understood the idea of "wanting." My ears perked up. She continued with the caution of being careful what you wish for using "wanting" as synonymous with "wishing." You see, often the things we think we want never quite turn out how we expect. We tend to feel disappointed rather than elated; deflated rather than fulfilled. As so we are left with wanting something more or something different. The moral is that when there is a "want," it is the feeling of wanting that is granted, rather than the thing, itself. Her advise? Rather than "I want", try "I would like" or "I would prefer."  'Like' carries a connotation of being suitable or agreeable; what is suitable or agreeable for you. 'Prefer' carries a similar tone. When we "would like" we are simply stating what is agreeable to us. 'Want', on the other hand, denotes a deficiency, a lack or a desire and carries a slightly negative tone. 'Want' concentrates us on what we do not have (and likely do not need!) rather than simply stating a fondness or proclivity.

Change the language. change the thought, change the expectation, change the outcome. And, as a cherished friend of mine says, "If nothing changes, nothing changes."

So begin paying attention to your language. What are you really saying? It will give you an idea of what you are thinking or, more importantly, how you are thinking.

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