Detoxifying Our Conversations

Published by Susan Gillis Chapman on

  Recently I read a Sufi story about a travelor who visits a monastery once a year.  The first time, the spiritual master was sitting silently but the members of the community were wildly acting out.   “I wonder what that was all about?” the travellor thought as he walked away.  The second visit was totally different and the whole community was in silent meditation.  “Well, I guess the teacher finally gained some respect” he thought.  The third visit found the master completely alone in her monastery, everyone else had gone.  The travellor decided to step forward and speak to the master.   ‘Where did all your disciples go?’.  The master said:  “the first year when you dropped by, you saw the new community, which was still detoxifying from a materialistic lifestyle.  The second my students were finally able to meditate, to train their minds and now they have gone back to their homes with an open heart, dedicated to helping others”.

These three stages are similar to the path of mindful communication.  First we need to make friends with the parts of ourselves we’ve rejected or suppressed.  In a container of gentle friendship, we can de-toxify our ‘red light’ belief system by letting go of the fixed ideas and justifications that cause harm. This liberates the natural energy of our emotions, freeing them from the ‘me-first’ story. Humour, song and dance help this kind of integration. The next stage includes the insights of profound meditation, discovering that our genuine nature is open,awake and tender.  And finally we bring the gift of empathy, wisdom and attention back to our homes and workplaces.

Reflecting on our  spiritual autobiography–the journey to now–is a powerful way to explore these themes in our lives.  Give an example of an emotion, such as anger, that you suppressed as being ‘unforgiveably bad’.  How did that suppressed emotion toxify your communication, such as making you judgmental or critical of others?  How did you learn to recognize that projected storyline?  Was there a particular turning point ?  How did that process result in a greater openness?  These and other explorations will be coming soon in a workbook called The Journey To Now:  Life Review In Conversation.  We hope also to have an on-line support program for this home-study course.



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Susan Gillis Chapman

teaches part time for Green Zone Institute and for Karuna Training. Susan is a retired Marital and Family therapist who has been practicing mindfulness meditation for over 35 years.  She is the author of the book The Five Keys To Mindful Communication and a contributor to The Mindful Revolution, edited by Barry Boyce. Her website is: Read more about Susan here.