Truthspeaking as a
Catalyst for Awakening

"What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have."

- Oprah Winfrey

I introduce Truthspeaking to my students on the first day of the semester by posing the simple question: “Why are you here?” I repeat the question and then add, “If you know, raise your hand.” Only a few hands go up. This may suggest that those without their hands raised are in class without a reason. Yet that’s not quite true. Everyone is there for one reason or another, but few are ready to acknowledge their truth, let alone give voice to it. But why is this the case?

When pressed, some students acknowledge that their motivation for attending college isn’t rooted in their thirst for knowledge. Instead, like most of their classmates, their principal reason for being in college is to earn a diploma that will help to ensure financial success in a competitive world.

The larger risk that students run by not being honest with themselves about their reasons for attending college is that it separates them from their own Truth. Ungrounded from themselves in this way, they risk following life paths that fail to fulfill and enliven them.

To begin to gauge how connected you are to your larger Truth, use your Journal to engage with the following questions, trusting that Truthspeaking can trigger insight and awakening:

Why are you here? Wherever “here” may be, why are you here?

Suppose, starting RIGHT NOW, that college, for whatever reason, was no longer an option for you. What would you do? Where would you go? How might you reinvent yourself? Who might you become?
Hint: Use your imagination.

The Practice of Truthspeaking

Teacher and writer Tamarack Song describes “Truthspeaking” as the practice of stating, “clearly and simply what one thinks and feels. There is no judgment or expectation, no disguise of humor or force of anger. The manner of speech is sacred, because it wells up from the soul of our being....”

Song learned about Truthspeaking when he lived among wolves: “When my words were not my Truth, the Wolves ignored them and listened instead to the Voice of my Heart. They could hear it [my heart] because their communication did not rely upon words. They knew that the Heartvoice spoke nothing but Truth—they could read me like a book.”

Song contends that all of us know, intuitively, how to Truthspeak, but we simply have forgotten it. Indeed, in everyday conversations, our focus is usually on the past or the future. This removes our attention from the only moment that is real—The Present. What would it be like to limit our speaking to the present moment? Is it even possible?

Exercise 1: A Conversation Rooted in the Present

Begin this experiment by finding a partner (it could be anybody) and sitting or standing, face-to-face, with this person. Each of you will be speaking for three minutes. If you are the first speaker, begin by making eye contact with your partner and then give voice to exactly what is happening for you in the present moment—stream-of-consciousness-style. This guarantees that you will be speaking in the present tense.
Your speaking might sound something like this:

I am looking at your eyes. They are brown. You are smiling. Now I feel a slight movement of air around my head. You are still smiling. I am wondering what you are thinking. I feel a tinge of anxiety like you might be judging me as stupid. Now, I am noticing that my feet are warm. And now I am feeling tension in my neck. Now, I am noticing a picture on the wall behind you. I am hearing the sound of my voice, wondering how this voice of mine sounds to you… and so forth, for three minutes.

The idea is to stay in the present, removing all filters, and resisting the temptation to go into analysis. After three minutes, switch so that you become the listener and your partner has the opportunity to be the speaker.

Conclude by taking turns, sharing with each other your responses to the following open sentences:

What is true for me RIGHT NOW in my head/mind is…
What is true for me in my neck/throat is…
What is true in my heart/my center is…
What is true in my gut/my core is…

This simple, yet profound, practice creates a sweet bond, enlivening both participants.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

You have, no doubt, heard the expression, “Less is more.” This is certainly true of Truthspeaking! A good way to tell if you are really tapping into your Truth is to notice how many words it takes for you to speak it! After all, hearts speak few words; they get straight to the heart of the matter. To explore the power of responding to questions in succinct heartfelt ways, we challenge you to engage with the following experiment.

Exercise 2: The 5-Word-Response Game

The rules for this experiment are straightforward: Sit facing another person—it could be a friend, an acquaintance or, even, a family member—and simply take turns asking and answering each other’s questions.

Your questions should be based on what you would really like to know about the person sitting before you. Though you might be tempted to resort to fact-finding questions (e.g.,  “Where were you were born?” or ”What’s your favorite food?”) resist this temptation and, instead, get real by asking question that invite authenticity and vulnerability. For example:

i-When do you feel most alive?
ii-What is your biggest fear in life?
iii- Who are you when no one is looking?

Now, here’s the really challenging part: The responses to each question must be given in just FIVE words! No more! Don’t rush to respond. Instead, really sit with each question, waiting until your genuine truth arises.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, most people experience more intimacy and depth—more Truthspeaking—by restricting their responses to a just five precious words. Sink into this and find out for yourself!

Truthspeaking and Freedom

Have you ever found yourself saying things like X made me so mad or X made me late? Your “X” could be something a friend did or said; it could be the outcome of a football game; or the rain that messed up your hair. But guess what: Whatever your “X” is, you're telling yourself a lie when you say "X" made me... Why? Because we are each free to choose HOW to respond to all that befalls us; nothing can “make” us anything. For example, imagine saying to a friend, “My boyfriend made me upset because of what he said” and then pausing to ask yourself, “Is this really true?” Can I blame someone else’s words for making me upset? If you sit with this long enough, you will discover that, irrespective of the circumstances, we always get to choose whether to be upset or not. It’s always our choice!

The Truth Shall Set You Free

-Book of John, chapter 8, verse 32

"I used to think that people pleasing was a positive quality that made me kind and likable to all. Now I see that it is only a result of the pain caused by abandoning myself."

- Amanda Quinones, Steppingstone # 5 Guide

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