We all have something to say, whether it is about our feelings, our desires, our dreams, or beliefs.
For many reasons, however, we are silent when called to speak, or speaking too much when perhaps we should hold our own counsel.
All too often we fail to practice what Buddhists call “right speech”—truthful words spoken at the right time from a place of good will.
All too often our gifts of expression are hidden even from ourselves.
Our habits of expression have been influenced by cultural norms set in place long before we came along. Often these influences have been at cross purposes with our own needs for expression and even with who we fundamentally are. These stifled expressions morph into movements, gestures and mannerisms that strive to be heard. They may shout their fear or anger or sadness even when we say nothing. They become part of the character and persona others see, but we do not.
When we struggle to express our views and open our hearts and minds so that we can truly listen to others, we may, despite good intentions, fall into the chasm of misunderstanding. In our eagerness to convey our insights to others, we may be tripped by past beliefs and conditioning that plug communication.
A common blind spot in communication is honest self-assessment of the strengths and weaknesses in our own communication practices. Unconscious beliefs that undergird our words and arguments may cloud our communication styles.
When we feel heard and understood, we feel more sense of self-respect and connection to others. When we stifle our voice at times when speech is called for, we feel alone, disconnected, and shut down.
Just as we hold back our voice, we hold back our body and its movements. Shut down, restricted places in the body may at times be the physical emblems of a shut down voice. Studying the ways we have taken over the job of silencing ourselves, however, we can become aware of the way our silenced voice seeks to be heard through these bodily restrictions—and expressions.
As we explore and uncover assumptions and beliefs that influence our words, our gestures and body language in a safe place, we learn to know ourselves better, and to communicate our own deepest truths more clarity, truth, and authenticity. We will also find ways to understand less inflected by our own pre-judgments.
Often it is only through exploration and experimentation that we can discover what messages and stories we wish to tell.
By exploring new ways of moving and expressing, we may glimpse perhaps for the first time, to our own surprise and delight, that we have a message to express or a story to tell that others appreciate. At home, at work, and in our communities, we may learn to practice not only an expanded range of movement, but also a newfound freedom of expression.