Published in E.P.I.C. Magazine; Nov.-Dec. 2013.
I find culture everywhere. Cultures are inside me – in my digestive tract, in my mouth, and all throughout my body. Cultures are in my food – in my yogurt, my fermented beverages, and my raw foods. Outside of me, in my society, I find cultures and subcultures of people. It seems to me that my world is made up of cultures on many different levels, inside and out, and that furthermore, my cultures are totally related. So what is culture, anyway? One definition in Mirriam-Webster defines culture as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization”. So what are these shared values that make up my culture?
I want to take a look for a moment at how food applies to my culture. What I eat feeds my internal cultures in my digestive tract. If I eat processed food, then I create a culture that feeds on, and breaks down, processed food. At the same time, outside of me, I am supporting a culture that creates processed food. I see that the food I eat supports both my inner and outer cultures. And who or what determines the food that I eat? I do!
Ultimately, I am the decider, and I choose what to eat and what cultures to support. So the question is: what cultures do I want to create and support? I know from experience that when I eat candy-coated, processed food then my candy-coated, processed culture rots my teeth, my gut, my attitude, and my environment. This is not the culture I am choosing to build. Instead, I choose foods that heal me and my world, like organic and locally produced whole foods, because I choose to create a culture of healing. Looking at my food is a solid start to supporting a culture of healing, but there is another potent way I can affect my culture – my language.
Language and culture directly affect one another. If I want to create a culture of unity then it follows that my language will contain unifying words and phrases. When I use words like ‘you’, ‘we’, ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘it’ I am building differentiation and separation into my culture. When I translate these separating words into ‘I’ then I unify myself with my world. I call this translation I-language.
Here’s an example of part of an email I translated:
“The intuitive people have not been able vocalize their connection clear enough and the science people are taught not to trust intuition. We are at odds with ourselves, the two sides of our brains polarize our view, but they are the same and need each other.”
Translation (I am ‘intuitive people’, ’science people’, ‘we’ , ’ourselves’, ’each other’, ‘our ’):
“I have not been able vocalize my connection with myself clear enough and I am taught not to trust my intuition. I am at odds with myself, the two sides of my brain polarize my view, but I am the same and need myself.”
What just happened?
Before, I felt powerless because I thought that we all had to change for the world to change. I was hiding behind the masses of other people. I was blaming other people for my world’s problems. Now, after doing my translation, I hear what my intuition is telling me. I can feel what’s inside my shadow. I become clearer. I am telling myself that it’s me who needs to change! I am capable of changing myself, and often the judgment I externalize onto my world is really advice that is meant for me. Every time I do a translation I see the hidden truth of the message in my shadow. When I face up to my shadow is when I truly grow and evolve.
When I do my translations I not only reveal what’s lurking in my shadow, but I literally join myself with my world. When I say “I am other people” then I literally join myself with my image of those other people. This joining allows me to relate to similarities I have with others instead of just picking out differences. When I see other people as a part of me then I can have compassion for others simply by having compassion for myself. Doing my I-language translations is both humbling and empowering at the same time because I come into the awareness that my whole experience, the good and the bad, is all me.
I understand that what I am experiencing in my external world is really a manifestation of what is going on within me. I see images of war and hear of scores of people being killed every day in the news. Inside of me, I have microorganisms working to help my body while others are working to eat me alive. I have both good and bad within me, and therefore, outside of me as well. This understanding helps me to not be a victim to my external world. I now know that by coming into control of myself, I can begin to control what inner cultures I support. This behavior of self-control then radiates out into my external cultures. Instead of blaming, judging, and being a victim to my world, I focus on taking control of myself. When I control myself I can then choose to support cultures of healing, balance, and self-empowerment. By taking control of myself, I become empowered in my world. One way to control myself is to be mindful of the food I consume. Another way to control myself is to be mindful of the words I use.
Often times my world externalizes itself at me in harmful ways and it is difficult for me to want to join with that energy. For example, someone once said to me, “I think that you are full of judgmental feelings”. When I translated this sentence I could see the hidden truth behind what that other person was saying. They were saying “I think that I am full of judgmental feelings”! I had to laugh out loud when I imagined this person, who I was in conflict with, owning their words like that. The translation turned the energy of the interaction from blame into vulnerability. At the same time, I understood that I am capable of having judgmental feelings, too. I could then relate to this person and the conflict dissolved into understanding. This example shows that I can use my I-language tool as a mirror shield to both protect me from my culture of separation and to empower me in supporting my culture of healing.
I am the one who chooses what cultures to support and I choose to support cultures that heal me rather than hurt me. I have found that the key to using my language to heal myself is to do my translations. I-language is my tool and doing my translations is my practice. I am finding material to translate everywhere. There seems to be no end! I translate my thoughts, words, news, emails, songs, books, and quotes. By doing my translations I transform my energy from being dependant and giving away my power, to being independent and empowering myself. As I heal my language, I heal my relationship to myself, and it follows that my culture of healing radiates out into my world. I-language is literally the language of my healing.
My name is Aaron Watson. For the past 3 years I have been visiting sacred power spots, living in forests, working on organic farms, living in intentional communities, and building a culture of healing through my diet and my language. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
- My Language of Unity. ~ Aaron Watson (elephantjournal.com)
- 5 Ways to Boost Consciousness Using ‘I’ Language Yoga ~ Aaron Watson (elephantjournal.com)