The third obstacle in our spiritual life is prajalpa, meaning gossip or excessive talk (last month we discussed Obstacle 2: Excessive Work).
How to Speak
Gurudev used to say, “God has given you a tongue, and even though it is small, it is strong and powerful.” The tongue is more powerful than a revolver. A revolver can kill once, but bad words that hurt others will keep on killing them. Human mind and nature is such that if we see something wrong or not nice, we go on telling others and gossiping.
As is our mind, so is our thinking; as is our thinking, so is our talking; as is our talking, so is our behavior. Speak what it is necessary, useful and helpful. Gurudev used to say, “When you speak put some honey on your tongue”. He also used to say, “Speak sweetly.” Many times we speak truth that is unpalatable – if you really want peace, have control over your tongue.
Listen Before Talking
Another meaning of prajalpa is to justify yourself or subdue the views of others. If we are intelligent, we must first listen to what the other is saying, and only then should we express how we feel. But many times we are impatient and we interrupt or talk without listening.
Talking in Our Mind
Lahiri Mahasaya said, “People not only talk with their mouths; people talk a lot in their mind. Be extremely careful that your mind does not chatter during meditation.” If the mouth is shut but the mind is talking, you must regulate the mind from useless thoughts. To grow spiritually, we have to be careful about how much and what we think about.
Increase the quality of your thoughts. Discussing silly things shows that we are silly. Ordinary people discuss people, mediocre people discuss events, and good people discuss ideas and ideals.
How to Decrease the Quantity of Thoughts
Conscious breathing and the daily practice of pranayama decreases the quantity of thoughts.  But be careful — if you entertain your thoughts, many other thoughts will come. If this happens, bow and pray. If you are not meditating at the time, mentally pray to God. Prayer is the easiest way, and for this you do not have to talk with your mouth; you can mentally say, “This thing has happened.” God is the best friend you can have because He loves and always listens to you.
The "Overcoming Obstacles" series is an excerpt from a transcript of
Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji speaking at the 2014 Sydney Residential Retreat.

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