Health Starts in Your Mouth

Health Starts in Your Mouth

Raise your words, not voice.
It is rain that grows flowers not thunder.
~ Rumi

I have been thinking a lot about the power of our words lately and their ability to elevate the human psyche or destroy it in one hasty sentence. As I think about the power of our words I can’t help but think about our mouths where our words come from and are born out into the world. Just like the eyes have been called the windows of the soul, the mouth has been called the window to the body. Bacteria and diseases that start in the mouth can actually wreak havoc on the digestive, respiratory and cardiovascular systems of the body. Caring for your mouth from a wellness point of view is vitally important to maintaining a healthy body. But I believe caring for your mouth, and ultimately your body also includes caring about the words you choose to speak, or not to speak. Toxic words can also wreak havoc on your body resulting in stress, anxiety, depression, fear, sadness, and the list goes on. If you’re going to level up your oral hygiene game you’re going to have to include your words in that strategy.

I learned at a very young age the power of my words. Regretfully, I didn’t always constructively use my words. One day seven year old me visibly saw the power the spoken word can yield when I used this power on someone I deeply loved. I told my mother I hated her. Seven-year-old me didn’t really know how powerful those words could be for someone you love to receive them. The look in her eyes was sad and empty as if I had excavated the life right out of them. When those words came spewing from my mouth the temper tantrum I was having abruptly ended as I stared at her in shock, the silence coming down around us like a heavy wet blanket. My words had shifted the energy in the room in a profound way that I didn’t fully understand in my little child’s mind. However, what I did understand was whatever I was fighting for, whatever I wanted her to hear or understand, my words had gotten her attention. And while my ego felt heard and a little glimpse of power, my soul felt an unbearable weight of sadness as I observed the tears well up in her pretty green eyes and a little piece of her heart break. I ran to her, scared by my own power. She scooped me up and hugged me and we stood there in silence letting the toxic words fade away and the healing power of the hug fill the space.

Our words have meaning and that is why we use them. We use them to express our feelings, opinions, and thoughts. We string them together to tell stories and write books and poetry. We use them to describe things we see, taste, touch, and smell, experiences we’ve had, and places we have been. Sometimes when we hear them or read them and they sink in and stick with us, perhaps for a lifetime. These words could be words of praise or admiration that lift us up or they could be words of blame, guilt, or condemnation that slowly, over time, become death by a thousand cuts to our soul. Words can do as much damage to the soul as a sword can do to the flesh. They say that only about 8 to 10 percent of our thoughts, aka words in our heads, are actually our own. The rest are implanted into our consciousness by the words of our parents, our teachers, the media, society, and all the other external channels we are dialed into consciously and unconsciously. So wouldn’t it make sense to speak to yourself and others with kind words of encouragement, compassion, and love and implant some positive thoughts? The answer is YES!

There are times words are not actually even needed or wanted. Sometimes they just get in the way of the feeling that is longing to be felt, uninterrupted by words. Take the feeling of love for example. Looking into the eyes of your lover and feeling their lips kiss yours needs nothing else, no words are required for their love to be expressed and felt by you.

And then there are times when too many words are being used. Have you ever been in a heated conversation and thought to yourself I wish I would have just stopped talking long ago. Now all these words are just bumping up against one another creating chaos, confusion, and hurt. What you end up with is a situation where you now have to carefully use your words to repair the damage your careless words have caused. Sometimes words can’t even repair the damage and it’s a job for time and forgiveness to gracefully mend the scars.

It’s an interesting phenomenon the use of words and certainly, in my opinion, one worth contemplating. I think if we all spent a little bit more time reflecting on how we want to speak and be spoken to and then turned that reflection outward, wow what a difference we could make in the collective consciousness. What if we choose words that created lasting impressions of kindness and love instead of hatred and fear? If words can tear worlds apart then can’t they also build them to great heights of freedom, joy, and happiness? Yes, they absolutely can!

My mother used to tell my sisters and me, “girls if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” It was a thoughtful life lesson and one I have found myself sharing with my boys. My grandmother, on the other hand, used to threaten to wash my mouth out with soap if she heard me use my words in a negative or hateful way. I learned that lesson real fast, only took one time for me to be very thoughtful about my words in her presence!

So I encourage you to level up your oral hygiene game and pay more attention to your words. Take pride in your mouth and keep it clean. Your mouth is undeniably the gateway to a healthy body and proper dental hygiene should be a priority to maintain optimal health. But your mouth is also what you use to kiss with, it’s how you enjoy the juicy fruits of summer and it’s where your words come audibly into the world making or breaking not only your experience but the experience of those you share them with.

Lots of Love,

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