WORDS WITH FRIENDS is a popular smart phone app that allows a virtual connection between friends, or strangers, while playing a Scrabble-like word game.
It’s fun, let’s hope it’s good for the brain, and it’s free.
But what about real words with friends or stangers? The kind of words that make a difference in the world. The words that can lift someone up or cut someone down. How can a mindfulness practice help with real words?
The practice of mindfulness allows for awareness without judgment or criticism. When we pay attention to the “internal tape” that runs simultaneous to conversations with others, we can notice ways in which we are not truly listening. We can notice ways in which we are formulating responses that interfere with empathic and compassionate interactions to others. We can notice a tendency to react, rather than waiting to respond. It is often this unnoticed “internal tape” that leads to harmful speech. When we don’t pause, even for a moment, we are unfortunately capable of mindless speech.
The cultivation of mindfulness, apart from its Buddhist origins, still demands a sense of ethics or sila as it referred to in Buddhism. It is the opportunity to live in the world as a wholesome person, one who performs good deeds in this world.
May Thich Nhat Hanh’s words help us use our words with friends
and strangers to make the world a better place:
“Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering.
Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope.
I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticise or condemn things of which I am not sure.
I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break.
I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.”