In this New Year 2021, I have been reflecting on the themes of transformation and freedom. Reflecting on how much I have learned and changed in the past 10 years -- and how much more I have yet to learn.
There were several conversations with friends over the holidays which brought me back to the wisdom of don Miguel Ruiz’s internationally acclaimed book, “The Four Agreements.” I love the exquisite simplicity of this book which I read many years ago and has a headline “A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. The Four Agreements are:
Many of you may have read this book. Perhaps you are like me – I savor revisiting this book every so often and refreshing and relearning the lessons at an even deeper level. For those who are new to “The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book,” you are in for a joyful ride.
Over the next several blogs I am inspired to share my personal notes on these simple and profound values – or Agreements -- which support our continuing transformation to a life lived more fully in joy, love and freedom.
The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word
So, in don Miquel Ruiz’s own word, what does impeccable mean?
" Being impeccable with your word is
the correct use of your energy;
it means to use your energy
in the direction of truth and love for yourself."
The chapter goes on to explore the impact of words, with historical political references, stories of parenting and imprints on children, as well as the damages of gossiping. Don Miquel Ruiz endorses – in a different way, with different words -- what many of us learned from the wonderful Louise Hay, the queen of positive affirmations.
And now we know from the research of neuroscientists that we can build new neural networks in our brain. With positive affirmations, meditations, mantras and visualizations we can turn a single lane highway into a 4-lane super highway in our brain. Our Self-Talk really does matter. Words Matter.
I encourage you to immerse yourself in this Toltec Wisdom Book. As Ruiz writes:
“The first agreement is the most important one
and also the most difficult one to honor.
It is so important that with just this first agreement
you will be able to transcend to the level of existence I call heaven on earth.”
Now to the even more challenging point – how do we be impeccable with our word and make it real in our day-to-day lives?
I have 3 ideas to offer for your consideration:
Adopt the Practice of The Three Gates:
In destressifying, davidji writes: “The premise of The Three Gates is that just because you think something, that doesn’t mean you have to say it. In fact, before you say something… anything… you should pass your words through three gates to see if those words are worthy of making it into the tangible world.”
This is an age-old practice we can adopt to filter any thoughts that come to mind and to process them before we speak. The Three Gates are:
So, whatever thought may have popped into your mind, only allow the words to pop out of your mouth if they make it through the three gates/filters. If the thought does not meet any one of these tests, stay silent and move on. This process is not complicated and may take only a few seconds of quick reflection.
For a fuller discussion of this practice and the history, please read “destressifying: The Real-World Guide to Personal Development, Lasting Fulfillment, and Peace of Mind, Chapter 9, destressifying by Mastering Your Communication,” (pages 182-184), by davidji, an internationally recognized stress-management expert, meditation master and author.
Words Matter. Just think about how many times you have wished you had not said something or said it exactly that way or with that emotion and intent. Practice and experience the power of The Three Gates. Imagine your feelings when you know the words you speak are True, Kind and Useful.
Create Your List of Words and Phrases You Will Stop Using
Another idea is to identify the words which you most frequently use that are critical of yourself or others, and phases that reflect underlying limiting and negative beliefs.
This is a selection from my personal list of words and phrases to eliminate. Also included are phrases which represent gentle amber lights of caution to slow down and reflect. It is wonderful if you can simply stop using any words on your list. More realistically for me, the first step was to raise my awareness, to catch myself mid-sentence or later. The next and most important step is to reframe the phrase. I call it my list because I own it.
This is my short list! For a fuller discussion I refer you to “Chapter 12, Lessons on Self-Talk, Be Happy Now: From Wall Street Ambition and the Illusion of Success, My Path to Happiness," by Alison Lanza Falls and David S. Prudhomme.
What are the words and phrases on your list which you will stop using and reframe?
Create Positive Affirmations and Practices to Say Out Loud Every Day
First thing every morning, I write in my Gratitude Journal and meditate for at least 20 minutes. I am reminding myself all the time to be grateful for all the blessings in my life. I am saying thank you, thank you, thank you – and looking for opportunities to say thank you to the people and pets in my life. The meditations vary --- and tend to focus on themes and intentions I am working on that day, or week, or month – all positively reinforcing my intentions and visualizing my best Self.
I also have an incredibly special word and a personal mantra.
Have a splendiferous day!
Just this week, I added a knew practice based on a meditation, “The Breath of Love.” by Sarah Blondin in her new book,” Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love. In this meditation we are guided by Sarah’s gentle voice to put our hands on our heart and bow our heads and say, “I love you; I am listening.” How powerful is that? How often are we so kind and gentle and loving to ourselves?
What are your words or phrases you choose for your personal list? Write them down, right now.
Have a splendiferous day!
Words Matter! I trust we have some new ideas and motivation on how we can and will be impeccable with our words in our day-to-day lives. It is a path to personal freedom.
Till next time, stay well.
May you be happy now and always
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