Laced with Love

When I'm looking for inspiration I often look to Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, author and activist, who speaks about mindfulness so beautifully and so simply.  I recently came across this quote:

The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.

We each have the power to change lives with words and actions.  If we communicate negatively, the consequences can be devastating.  Think of children who are abused, or women who are battered.  Think of bullies who use words to belittle and tear down others.  Think of lives that are complicated and ruined by mindless words and acts.

On occasion I find myself saying thoughtless things I later regret.  And as the author Jodi Piccoult said: "Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall."  To avoid making the mess Jodi Piccoult describes, I am learning to ask myself three questions before I speak. Are my words necessary?  Are my words helpful? Are my words true? Taking a pause, and communicating gently and thoughtfully, without letting my own fears and insecurities get in the way, has enhanced and strengthened relationships in every area of my life.

And mindful communication must also include the practice of mindful listening.  Truly listening to what others have to say without judgment, without interruption, and without thinking about what I want to say next.

I recently heard this story about a 9 year old little girl named Mary Ann.  Mary Ann was born with a cleft palate and a cleft lip.  She also had hearing loss in one ear and struggled with impediment in her speech.  Mary Ann was loved at home, but when she went to school, she became painfully aware that she was different.  Her classmates would stare and she was often teased about her appearance and how she spoke.  Because it seemed less strange, Mary Ann made up a story that she fell and cut her lip on glass.  Life outside of her home was very difficult.

Mrs. Higgins was Mary Ann's fourth grade teacher and like every other fourth grader in the class, Mary Ann adored her.  Mrs. Higgins was sparkly, warm and lovable.  She was the most loved teacher in the school.

Every year the fourth graders had to have their hearing checked.  As you can imagine, Mary Ann dreaded hearing check day.  Mrs. Higgins did the checks by asking questions like "Is the sky blue?"  or "Does your dog want a bone?" Mary Ann tried to guess the questions Mrs. Higgins would ask so she could pass the test and for once fit in like everyone else.  Finally it was Mary Ann's turn.  When it was time to cover the good ear,  just to be safe, Mary Ann left a little space between her hand and her ear so that maybe she would have a chance of hearing what Mrs. Higgins was going to say.  To Mary Ann's surprise, Mrs. Higgins leaned in very close and she heard her say, "I wish you were my little girl."

Mindfulness has the power to transform lives and when it's laced with love--it can change the world.

- Doro Bush Koch