Every so often our Spiritual Study group agrees to put itself through something we call No Suggestion Practice. This consists of spending a week without making any suggestions to anyone about anything—unless a suggestion is specifically sought.
We stick Post Its around the house to remind us to shut up. In addition, we make notes of each time we slip and advise someone how they might do something differently, how they might solve their problem, how they might move to a superior level of activity, the best way to get to Whole Foods, etc. You know what I mean. It’s endless! It doesn’t matter how life enhancing we perceive our suggestion to be, for a whole week our suggestion mouths are zipped.
One year when we did this, two of the women in the group had young children and after much discussion we made an exception for the question: Have you brushed your teeth? Otherwise the rule held fast.
After a week of the suggestion gag rule we gather together to share our failure lists. We laugh and laugh. Most of us can’t make it through a single day. It is easier to do this if you live alone—even better if you lock yourself in a closet for a day or a week, but no one has gone that far to achieve perfection.
One year the husband of one of our group members inquired about the Post Its on the kitchen wall, the bathroom mirror and stuck over the bureau in the bedroom.
“What are these?” He asked. His wife told him that we were all doing No Suggestion Practice and explained what it was. He smiled and commented, “I thought things were different around here. I like this!”
Let me tell you: No Suggestion Practice is challenging; it heightens our self- awareness in a not altogether pleasant fashion. But I urge you to try it for just one day and give yourself the opportunity to become alert as to how much of the time you spend—we all spend— in giving other people unsolicited advice. You’ll be amazed!
To the Ukrainian people: Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Written by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at LifeOpeningUp.blogspot.com