Zen and the Art of Profanity

by Apr 19, 2016Self-Knowledge

The use of profanity in therapy?????

Could this be the future of therapeutic coping? Can incorporating ‘expletives’ into our mindfulness practices help reduce stress and create a state of calm? I’ve always quietly relished the used of the occasionally well placed ‘sentence enhancer’ in my vocabulary, but there’s a grassroots movement slowly developing that promotes the use of therapeutic profanity. Now that’s caught my attention!

According to Alison Birrane (2015) in a recent BBC published article ‘Can Swearing Make You More Relaxed?’ there may be some merit behind dropping the odd swear word into your conversation. “While [traditional] yoga and meditation are associated with peace and Zen, some find that it works better with shouting and expletives”. Subsequently, some contemporary mindfulness practitioners are taking yoga and therapy to the next step by creating group programs that allow clients to adopt colorful language in a safe and non threatening environments that allow individuals to blow off steam.

Not surprisingly, these concepts have been supported by a lot of social research conducted into the benefits of incorporating expletives into our vocabulary. One New Zealand research study that Birrane references titled; ‘The Language in the Workplace Project’ (why am I not surprised??), explored the benefits of using expletive language to create workplace bonding and improvement of emotional regulation. http://www.seth-smith.org.uk/images/laughter/expletives.pdf

Are the merits of using profanity warranted? It’s bloody hard to say. Will this lead to more colorful displays of expression in session? Possibly!! Maybe we should all tentatively slip in an occasional ‘sentence enhancer’ into our conversation today and see what happens. Just food for thought.

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Image acknowledgement: BBC.com