To have a voice is to be human. To have something to say is to be a person. But speaking depends on listening and being heard; it is an intensely relational act. -Carol Gilligan
Last Saturday in Yoga Teacher Training
we came to Astaya - (Non-Stealing) and how it pertains to speech and attention. Kathy said, ‘The less I participate, the less I steal.
During my first semester of group therapy in graduate school, I was challenged to not talk. I believe I had to sit on my hands to remind myself to keep my mouth shut. In this experiment, I noticed that not talking I felt more anxious. Could I be talking to manage anxiety? What were the driving forces behind talking? Later in group settings, I observed within myself a desire to speak so that people might know things about me. I wanted to perform in groups in ways that might create connection and acceptance. Ultimately, I may have wanted to say things that would position me as an intelligent creature, worthy of the love and attention of others.
In the book, In a Different Voice, Carol Gillian writes,
“Speaking and listening are a form of psychic breathing. This ongoing relational exchange among people is mediated through language and culture, diversity and plurality. For these reasons, voice is a new key for understanding the psychological, social, and cultural order – a litmus test of relationships and a measure of psychological health.”
Gilligan’s ideas are timely for all the conversations we are having about listening and diversity. Listening can be social activism that creates spaces for voices usually overlooked and not talking can be a way of getting to know one’s self and the unconscious ways we participate in groups.