Do you find it difficult to keep quiet when you feel the urge to explain yourself? Maybe you’ll recognize yourself in this story,
I know I certainly do!
In a small temple in the mountains, four student monks were practicing Zazen. They agreed amongst themselves to observe seven days of silence. The first day of meditation began auspiciously, but as night began to fall one of the monks started feeling irritated that the lamps were not being lit.
"It was your turn to light the lamps," he complained to one of his fellow students.
The second monk was surprised to hear the first one talk.
"In my concentration to maintain silence, I forgot," he explained
"Listen to you two," said the third student, "Why did you talk?"
" I am the only one now who has not talked," concluded the fourth.
Most of us find it tough to stay quiet when the need to explain or justify something rears its head. Even when we have promised ourselves to watch out for any compulsion to express whatever we know is right, it just seems impossible to stay quiet! Personally (and with clients) I have tried and tested many things ….. and the following seems to work the best:
Try this: track and note down how much of your day is taken up with explaining yourself. This can be an interesting exercise to do every day, over a week's period.
Then: Whenever you catch yourself explaining or defending yourself, STOP, and take a deep breath. Then take two more slow breaths, focusing your attention away from your thoughts and into the center of your chest.
Then ask yourself, what do I really want to achieve? Is what I am about to say likely to achieve it? Whatever you answer yourself, follow that advice
Then try: breathing slowly and being fully present in your body, throughout the next ten minutes!
However slightly your urge-control increases, whatever your insights, congratulate yourself! You may never know how many people you have impacted in a positive way!