Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Shri of Speech

Patrick and I are back from a delicious two week vacation, visiting for a week in Oregon with family and friends, then a week at the Wanderlust Music and Yoga Festival in Squaw Valley, Ca.

The Wanderlust festival left us especially full of joy. We had the great opportunity to enjoy classes, trainings, and socializing with our beloved teacher, John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga, as well as some of the top instructors in Anusara Yoga and two great scholars of Tantric philosophy. Each day, we felt our heart exploding more as we received some of the highest teachings of non-duality delivered with incredible grace and mastery. We felt completely embraced by the kula (community of the heart) as we communed with old friends and students from all over California and the world. It was a great time of celebration for all.

One teaching that was especially potent for me was one that I shared in classes last week. It is a core teaching of Anusara Yoga: seeing the shri (pronounced shree): the good, the beauty, the auspiciousness, the divine splendor. Shri is the nature of the Divine and thus it's the true nature of every one of us. Although I've been exploring shri in numerous ways over the 10+ years I've been with Anusara, I was especially struck by one of our teachers' living embodiment of it. As John said: "You will never hear her say anything bad about anybody." Wow, that is no small deal.

Our thoughts and speech are incredibly powerful; we all know how sweet it feels to be appreciated and how awful it feels to be condemned. Her example inspired me to look more closely at what I think and what I say about others. I can see how I embody shri more easily in a positive, celebratory atmosphere like the festival. Kindness and loving energy seem to flow more readily when we're surrounded by loved ones in an uplifting setting.

But where the rubber meets the road is when we're back in the daily grind. Can we see the shri and speak kindly of others when stuck in traffic, dealing with back pain, listening to the news, or speaking about the person who triggers us the most? Can we drop the judgments and seek out the positive in each person or situation? And can we be kind to ourselves when we fall into old undesirable habits? (I'm not suggesting that we paste on a smile in the difficult moments with a false "it's all good" attitude, but I am suggesting that with awareness and practice, we ride the waves of what we're feeling and then seek the highest response. More on this in another article soon).

In yoga, the power of speech is called matrika shakti and it relates to all levels of words: concept, thought, written word, spoken word, songs, etc. It even relates to the foundational attitudes we cultivate that form our thoughts and our beliefs. As we inquire into our own matrika habits, we understand that thinking or speaking negatively of ourselves or others is never helpful and that cultivating shri can be truly life-changing for ourselves and everyone we meet.

Through the practice of aligning ourselves with the highest intentions again and again, and aligning our energies with the highest vibrations (through clear attitude, alignment and action in asana, and all activities), we increase our awareness of our thoughts and beliefs and we can begin to consciously choose what comes out of our mouths. Or if we say something we wish we hadn't, we're more likely to catch it right afterward. Then with practice, we can self-edit before we even utter the words.

Ultimately, I believe we can live from shri, where kindness naturally flows from our lips because our internal landscape rests in love.

May your eyes open to the shri around you and in your own heart


  1. Beautiful, Robyn. I love this piece.May all our words be beautiful!

  2. Thanks, Joanna. It was fun to write. Yes, that song is perfect. Check out the poem I put with it in my newsletter if you're still getting those...Love!

  3. wow robyn
    i have been going by 'sri' for some years now
    already this name is holy, given to me by
    the most holy of beings i have ever met
    also, here tonight
    thanks to your offering
    sri expands in my mind and heart
    and gives me something sweet and sacred to hold
    as i behold myself and the extension of my Self
    that is life
    just beautiful
    thank you

  4. Sweet, Srihari. So glad my offering has touched your beautiful heart.

  5. Beautiful said! Thank you for that reminding of a teaching I have been working on consciously for the last years. So true what you said about it being easier to do when we are with our kula, but it takes extra effort back in our everyday life, sometimes with people who do not share the same outlook on life. But with our own effort to communicate with shri, we benefit ourselves and others!

  6. Fabulous Robyn. Poignantly time and exactly the teachings I needed to hear in light of the struggles and lessons from my recent post. Blessings to you!