Over the weekend I completed another online module for my 300-hour yoga teacher training at Asheville Yoga Center. This one was Yoga, Chakras and Consciousness with Michael Johnson and I found it to be educational and enjoyable. Personally, I really resonate with Michael’s style of teaching. He is CRAZY smart and knowledgable in a way that could be intimidating if here weren’t so friendly, approachable and humble.
While I really miss being at Asheville Yoga Center in person for the trainings, I am so grateful that Yoga Alliance is virtual trainings right now. It has been a bright spot during stay-at-home orders to have something to focus on that excites and expands my heart and mind.
You guys, I cannot even begin to accurately transmit to you the depth of what I learned over the weekend but we went DEEP down the rabbit hole of exploring consciousness. We worked to understand chakras as “a focal point with symbols to remind us how to overcome suffering and flourish.”
I was pleasantly surprised to find much of the weekend teachings were focused on compassionate/skillful communication and just being a good person and doing as much as possible to reduce mental afflictions in order to improve the quality of life for ourselves and those around us (basically, living loving kindness).
I took pages and pages of notes but there was one takeaway that I wanted to share here because whether you’re a yogi or not, this information will be relevant and helpful.
THE 4 GATES OF SPEECH
We talked a lot about the 4 gates of speech and here they are:
- TRUE: Is what I have to say true?
- NECESSARY: Is what I have to say necessary?
- TIMING: Is now the appropriate time to say this?
- KINDNESS: Is what I’m saying kind?
The four gates of speech are a helpful mental checklist to run through for navigating interactions with others and formulating feedback when necessary.
Is what I have to say true? It is so easy to exaggerate and inflate stories and facts, as well as to speak from our own lens on things instead of from the pure truth. I also believe this extends to participating in sharing gossip.
Is what I have to say necessary? This is one that I have worked really, really hard on over the last few years. Oftentimes, if we just keep our feedback/thoughts/opinions to ourselves we can improve our interactions and relationships with others. And if you REALLY need to get something out that feels highly emotional or charged, perhaps write a letter or an email first, or practice the dialogue with someone else. You may find that you don’t need to send it or say it at all, and that it was enough just to get it out.
There is a lot of freedom to be found in silence. I’ll quote Ghandi here who said, “Speak only if it improves the silence.”
Is now the appropriate time to say this? Timing is everything, right? This applies to speech too. One common instance of speaking at inappropriate times is when you criticize or correct someone in front of others, even if you feel that you’re helping. These kinds of conversations are best had one-on-one 99.9% of the time. Also not a good time to speak when you are in a reactionary or emotional state.
When I think about this idea I also think about being a good listener and how often we could hold our speech instead of interrupting others. And then you might find that you circle back to number two and it wasn’t really even necessary to say…you just wanted to speak.
Is it kind? No one likes to be spoken to harshly…not your friend, co-worker, partner, child or even your dog. You are much more likely to get a positive outcome from an interaction when it’s kind. I know that sometimes in the heat of the moment it’s easy to be harsh or unkind in our speech but we can lessen their frequency by practicing the four gates of speech. Often, I have a gut reaction to say things one way but when I work to really examine the root issue of what I am feeling, I find that I can either say nothing at all and let it go or I can express feelings in a much kinder way.
To quote my friend Shanna Small, “Would you say it in front of your grandmother and feel good about it?”
I am willing to shout from the roof tops that I DO NOT have the 4 gates of speech mastered but I am a huge fan of tools like this that help me to improve my communication. I have also found that when I improve communication with others, I improve my relationships with them and with myself. I am very much a work in progress but I am committed to seeing where I lack or fall short and to finding better ways to relate to the world around me. I would also HIGHLY recommend reading The Four Agreements. The first is to be impeccable with your word.
I cannot wait to study with Michael again. I am planning to take a five-day Bhakti Yoga immersion with him in September.
Just a few photos from Mother’s Day weekend outside of my yoga training.
Finn was with his dad for the weekend (thus the reason why I could do the training) and came back to me around noon on Sunday. I got in lots of QT with him and my furry children. The weather was gorgeous and we went for a 4 mile walk.
After the walk we played in the back yard for a long time. Stella was hanging out with us on Sunday and spent a lot of time in my lap while I soaked up the sun.
One of my girlfriends sent me a Mother’s Day treat of mini cupcakes and I polished off the whole tray over the course of the weekend. Here’s the company that she ordered from if you are interested. Great quality and super cute packaging!
And finally, I went through a closet with some baby things and Finn wanted to sit in this infant chair. I snapped a photo and had to compare it to the very first photo that I have of him in it when he was just a few days old. So grateful that he made me a mom and can’t wait to celebrate his second birthday in a few days! <3
What do you think about the four gates of speech? Which one are you best at? Which do you struggle most with?
What did you do for Mother’s Day?
What’s your favorite gift to mail order/send to others? Always looking for creative/fun/delicious ideas that aren’t just flowers.
Wow – I love this info about the Four Gates of Speech. I think what I struggle with is both necessary and timing. I have a tendency to word vomit ? and say things so quickly that I feel like the true intention behind why I said it doesn’t come through (not in a bad/unkind way, more in a pointless why did you say that way). It’s definitely something I need to work on!
I baked and walked on Mother’s Day!
I don’t have any creative gift ideas – I’m actually really indecisive so I can never settle on something. I do love plants though because I love that they last and become a nice memory every time you see it. I usually rope my husband in on picking them out though because he knows wayyyy more about plants than I do (what can be potted, best climates, when it blooms, etc).
Such an introspective share Brittany! It’s really cool that you can see those things about your communication style but just remember that it’s a practice and something to continually work at. Awareness is an important piece of it!
I am also crazy indecisive and love getting ideas about others. I also love plant gifts but know nothing AT ALL about anything green.
I love the 4 gates of speech! I use something similar with my students, especially when it comes to how they treat each other. I never knew it was called this and was happy to learn more about it. Thanks for sharing !
I love to hear that you are teaching these communication principles in your classroom!
I have written down the four gates and want to work on them.My strongest gate would be truth and my weakest is appropriate. My goal is to incorporate all four to become a more intentionable and kind person.
I have Sent many family and friends gifts from The Rusted Orange company. They make customized metal signs. They are cute and very reasonably priced. I just sent my mom a sign for her garden and it is perfect.
Thank you for the thoughtful share about the four gates and for the recommendation about The Rusted Orange. I love this idea!
I really like the 4 gates concept and having a name for something that can feel abstract. Re: gifts, I just sent my mother in law a plant via mail using a website called The Sill and she loved it! I know it sounds weird/risky to send a plant via mail but it arrived to her in perfect shape in a cute ceramic pot and I like that it’s something she’ll have for a while.
This is exactly the kind of reference that I was looking for! Thank you!
Thank you for sharing I love the information on the 4 Gates of Speech and intend to incorporate it in my life. Please keep sharing what you can. Thank you!
I will. <3
These 4 Gates of Speech are absolutely what I needed to hear today. Thanks so much for always sharing, Jen, and sharing openly.
You are very welcome Lisa. Thanks for your kindness.
I haven’t heard of the 4 gates of speech before but it is a beuatiful concept.
Have you heard of nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg? I’ve discovered this form of communication (that is also a very very helpful tool for listening to the inner voice… 😉 ) and it changed my way of thinking and hopefully my way of living and interacting with others. It is similar to the 4 gates of speech and there is a (very long) awesome youtube video where you see Rosenberg himself apply it in a seminar.
Sorry fo that rant… Felt the need to share another awesome tool for compassionate communication 😉
have a lovely weekend!
Hi Moni – I have not heard of nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg. I am grateful that you shared it here so that I can learn about it! I want to watch the YouTube video, thanks for referencing it!
thank you for posting about the four gates of speech and elaborating… so informative! great stuff, Jen (as always 🙂 )
and happy mother’s day!
You are so welcome! 🙂 And thank you!