• January 28, 2019

    The ancient ones spoke of the prayer of the heart. “Let the prayer of your tongue become the prayer of your heart,” they said, and even more curiously: “May you awaken the tongue of your heart.” Are these just metaphors? Or is there something more to it?

    Perhaps you have noticed that the tensions that arise from your personal strivings and your fears and anxieties are held in the jaw and especially the tongue. Certain kinds of thoughts are associated with a tightening of the jaw and a rigidity of the tongue. When these tensions are released in me, my thinking changes and some habitual thoughts actually become completely unavailable. It doesn’t seem to work in the opposite direction; changing my thinking doesn’t seem to release the tension, at least not for long.

    It is not surprising that my thinking is closely linked to my tongue. I learned to speak as I learned to think; they arose together. Can I be free of my automatic thinking if my tongue and jaw are locked in place?

    Are my unconscious identities held by the habitual tensions of my tongue?

    When I give voice to prayer or zikr, is the sound retained in the throat by the tension in my jaw and tongue? Or by relaxing this tension, can my voice find its way to the heart, resonating the chest like a drum? Perhaps this is the tongue of the heart?

    The tongue is a medium for the voice, and the voice serves either the mind or the heart or, rarely, both. I find that I am able to speak and pray from the heart when my tongue is free of the tensions which reflect the anxieties of my mind and the preoccupations of my personal identities.

    How do you relax the tensions you speak of?

    Just thinking about relaxing has a very limited effect. The musculature quickly bounces back into its previous shape. Commanding yourself to relax is typically quite stressful, is it not? Most of the efforts we habitually make are initiated by tension. Another way is needed that does not trigger the automatic pushing force that we think of as will. There is an inner gesture of releasing, what I think of as an act of submission, which opens the way to another form of doing without tension. It is neither clinging nor averting but a third state between them and unlike the other two. You must look for it.

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