What comes to mind when you think of the word “gossip?”
The English word, “gossip,” originated from the word “godsipp,” which referred to godparents. Because godmothers were present at the birth of a child and other all-female settings, the word eventually came to be associated with women who talk frequently.
In India, women enjoy something called “peanut hour,” a time of day in the afternoon when women get together to shell peanuts and talk without ceasing. Yogi Bhajan taught that this “peanut hour” had a physiological significance for women. The design of the female jaw demands lots of movement.
Understanding gossip and “peanut hour” as fulfilling a physiological need offers a lovely, neutral perspective on gossip.
So what if you heard your best friend was trash talking you? Maybe she simply needed to exercise her jaw. This is forgivable and may save you lots of trouble of taking any talk personally or too seriously. Feel liberated from any need to give negative gossip any energy other than welcoming it into the forgiving spaces of your enormous heart.
Yogi Bhajan defined gossip as any kind of talk about someone who is not present. Whether you speak highly of someone or speak lowly of someone, if that someone is not within earshot of what you are saying, it’s all gossip.
And if you ever speak about others when they are not present, please take note of how your words affect your nerves, your organs, your glands, your muscles, your cells. Because I want to know the physiological impact of gossip down to the tiniest, physical detail, I wonder: how does gossip influence hormonal balance? What’s more, can we become aware of how the gossip is affecting the nerves, cells, hairs, and hormones of the person we are speaking about? And if we just assume, for the sake of being conscious, that the person we are speaking of will intuitively know we are gossiping about them, what then? This is the Aquarian Age, after all. Nothing is hidden in this age. It’s all out in the open.
If this is the case, then is there a way to use the energy we devote to gossip to serve the growth of wisdom, intuition, and consciousness?
Perhaps it’s a dreamer’s vision, but there may be a time when we will communicate with one another through song, through poetry, and through prayer. When we want to speak about someone who is not present, we will intuitively feel compelled to compose a sonnet or an epic poem listing all the blessings we wish to send out to that absent person.
Is it possible for human beings to evolve negative gossip into something more conscious, more graceful, more divine? Is it about time we move on from the proliferation of gossip columns and talk shows to something more sacred? Quite frankly, my beloved Sisters, I am bored with insider information about friends, celebrities, leaders, and politicians!
But that doesn’t mean I do not appreciate the feeling of closeness that the gossip seems to forge between myself and my conversation partner. For some time now, gossip seems to have been satisfying a fear-based, reptilian brain need to feel a sense of social connection. And these days, gossip seems projected from the lower chakras and the negative mind. Yogi Bhajan’s book The Mind, and also the book, The Chakras, offer great practices for moving energy up to the higher centers. Is it possible for us to consciously move this need for gossip into the higher glands? What would it mean to explore intimacy from the pituitary glad, the seat of the intuition? Or, what would it look like to approach social connection from the pineal gland, the seat of the soul? A good kriya to practice for moving energy to the higher centers is called “Transforming the Lower Triangle to the Higher Triangle.”
Suppose we were to collectively embark on a 1,000 day practice in which every time we felt compelled to speak about someone who wasn’t present, instead we would race to the nearest sacred text and start getting cozy with poetry, song, and scripture. We’d be Masters of soul gossip, also known as gospel! And the gospel in this sense wouldn’t necessarily be about obeying the commands, ideas, or stories written in sacred texts; rather, gospel here would be the way we choose to relate to one another through our shared urge to merge with the divine. And ideally that urge would serge through our being in a natural flow, not just something we’d do because it’s “good for us.”
Recently, I participated in an Akhand Paath, a continuous reading of the entire Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred text from which all Kundalini yoga mantras originate. I remember many lines from that reading, but one I remember most is “My Beloved is the lover of love.” I have been repeating this line in my mind ever since.
Suppose anytime I feel compelled to speak of someone who is not present, instead of speaking, I observe silence and mentally vibrate the sacred line “My Beloved is the lover of love.” To You whom I was about to gossip about, “My Beloved is the lover of love!”
That quickly throws the energy of divine love, beauty, and sacred experience into my urge to gossip, and I feel 120 pounds lighter. I swear it’s the best weight loss program in the universe! I swear I am floating on this sea breeze that blows through the window now!
What’s more, I can always remember that God and me, me and God, are one. So, I might as well do my very best to speak and listen to only that which is worthy of God’s ears and God’s lips.