One of the goals in my life is to apply spiritual principles, mostly learned from reading books on spiritual subjects and talking with people far more adept at living spiritually than myself, and then trying my best to live out the lessons that stick with me. For instance, just about any spiritually motivated book you will read or any guided meditation has a lesson or a statement about non-judgment.
Of course, non-judgment can come in many forms. Not judging others, for one. I once heard that there was a study done where some group found that there are 256 ways to wash dishes. This statistic stuck with me. I use it like this: whenever I find myself thinking that my way is the only way, I say to myself, There are 256 ways to wash dishes, so surely there are many ways to do _________ (fill in the blank).
I have also imparted this stat on my children, so when they tell me, or each other, how something must be done, I let them know that everyone has a way of doing things his or her way, and that being one of a kind is what makes the world go around.
I would be amiss in not telling you something – it took me a long time to learn this particular part of living spiritually. I genuinely looked at others as “stupid people” more times than I care to count. And I’m not going to tell you I don’t fall off the bandwagon sometimes either, because I do. For instance, if I am lucky enough to have someone load my dishwasher, it drives me bananas when they put the kids’ plastic plates on the bottom rack. They are supposed to be on the top or they get all scratchy and the kids end up eating plastic with their mac-and-cheese.
But I digress back to non-judgment. Another form of not judging might be not judging oneself – cutting away the tape running through the brain that says things like, that was a stupid thing to do. Or, you are such a messy person. Or, you are terrible with money, no wonder you don’t have enough. Or, you always start things and quit. Or, why was I so active last week, last month, last year, and now I’m so lazy.
These are just a few, but I’m sure everyone has his own self-talk. Not judging oneself is so important that there are entire books dedicated to the subject. One book, A Soul Without Shame, A Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within by Byron Brown, is helping me learn to accept myself more – my actions and how I am as a person. Even though I have not finished it (yet), I have still gleaned a few nuggets from this book about judging myself.
In this book there are examples of what self judgment sounds like. When seen in the written context it makes it easier for me to say to myself, when I have a self-depreciating thought, That’s not a nice thing to say! Or, I might try and turn the statement around and say, Well the fact that I feel so lazy this week (day) must mean I got a whole lot done last week! I was so busy I wore myself out.
Byron says, “…by paying attention to your self-judgment, you will recognize that your standards are learned from others, and they can run counter to what you yourself want, feel, or know to be true. If you see this, you will realize that the voice you hear is not yours. It belongs to a familiar companion who lives inside you, someone you have brought along on this journey of life.”
By being aware, looking beyond the “voice,” I am learning to help myself not judge myself so much. I become a better person because I don’t have to be angry at myself, or others when I think they are judging me for the same things I am judging myself for, any longer. I’m free.
But non-judgment goes beyond judging people and can also include a situation or life experience. For instance, I have mentioned before that with the housing market these past couple of years Hubby and I are having a hard time affording a private school we chose for our children. I like to tell people, We are doing just fine. How Hubby has kept us going in this market is a miracle in itself. And what I have asked myself from the experience is, even if we could afford the school, should we?
Because of the changes in our life, we started to tour the public schools in our area and they are excellent. I mean excellent. The main reason I chose private schooling was because I felt my children would receive more individualized treatment. And what I found was that public schools today, in my area, are very different than when I was young(er). They want to treat the child as an individual and allow the little person within to flourish, not as a person that should be acting like everyone else, but as an individual.
I’m actually excited to send my children to one of these schools. This change that I, at first, thought was bad will actually benefit us in so many ways. I believe my kids will get exactly what I had wanted from the private school and now we can use our family resources in another way that might be better for us in the long run. This unforeseen change has helped us.
This is not to say the change is not going to be a difficult transition. My son, in particular, is not going to be happy at first. But I believe he will adapt, as will Hubby and I.
And this is not the only life transformation going on for our family. We are not sure we want to stay in our house that we currently live in. Should we, or should we not? Hubby’s work is often in the air – it’s coming in, but a drop at a time is really different than a whole bucket at once, and there is the potential for both.
Our life right now is confusing and scary, but when I think of it from a spiritual aspect, it is exciting. And, here’s why: I mentioned a book in a previous post (on Prosperity) called, A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi.
I mention this book again because of a parable he delivers which shows how one should not judge experiences. The parable goes something like this (I’m paraphrasing):
A farmer has a herd of horses that escapes their enclosure and run away. His neighbor says, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
The farmer says, “Don’t be sorry, it is neither good nor bad.”
The farmer sends his son out to retrieve the horses. While he’s out the son also finds a herd of wild horses and brings those back, so now this farmer has even more horses than before.
This time his neighbor says, “Wow, what luck. I’m so glad for your gain.”
The farmer replies, “No need to be glad, it is neither good nor bad.”
The next day the son falls off one of the wild horses and breaks his leg, and the neighbor says, “Oh no, I am so sorry for this bad luck, I know you rely heavily upon your son’s help.”
The farmer again says, “The luck is neither good nor bad, no need to be sorry.”
The next day, the army comes to take the farmer’s son to war because they are short on men to fight, but the son cannot go because he has a broken leg.
I think this story is a wonderful expression of how a situation that can seem “bad” is not so bad after it unfolds, and a situation that can seem “good” is not really that great considering the consequences. This one story taught me a grand lesson in looking at a situation and being able to say, I see this from a higher place, one that I will not judge.
There is also a poem from one of my children’s books that brings me comfort when I feel scared or anxious about change (see the poem below). Long before I began to read spiritual writings and study spiritual principles this poem resonated with me deeply.
I guess I have always had a place in my heart for the unknown and a willingness, or desire, not to fear change. I know change can never really be “bad,” because I believe that I am here for a higher purpose and if I, or my life circumstances, don’t change, how am I to become the person I am meant to be? Complacency is far scarier than change, to me.
So today, right in this moment, I accept my life as it is now, forever changing. I aspire to live in non-judgment of others, of myself and of the happenings in my life.
The poem mentioned above:
Give Yourself to the Rain
By Margaret Wise Brown (the author of Goodnight Moon)
Give yourself to the rain when it falls
Give yourself to the wind
Go with it
Blow through the bright dark
Green light on trees
Listen to the rain
Again – through sleep
Dream of it
Brace nothing against it
Safe in your bed
And give yourself to the rain
When it falls down.
Soul Without Shame, A guide to liberating yourself from the judge within
By Byron Brown
A Happy Pocket Full of Money, your quantum leap into the understanding, having, and enjoying of immense wealth and happiness
by David Cameron Gikandi
Give Yourself to the Rain, poems for the very young
By Margaret Wise Brown