Archive for the ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ Tag

Non-judgment, Presence, and Place Sharing

I spend a lot of time judging.  Although I may not consciously realize it, I am constantly deciding (judging)  whether I like the weather, the food I’m eating, or the shoes worn by the woman who just walked by.  The fact that I’m not alone in this predicament makes me think that it is worthy of our discussion, especially as the implications of our constant judging affect our ability to relate with one another.

The point that I am constantly evaluating everything was driven home to me when I read a suggestion by author Deepak Chopra to practice non-judgment.  Chopra advised, in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, to start the day with this statement:   “Today, I shall judge nothing that occurs” (17).  It’s his assertion that by cultivating a mind that doesn’t constantly evaluate everything as good or bad, it creates a certain silence or peace in the mind which promotes love and creativity.  But how does the idea of non-judgment translate in normal, everyday life, where we are sometimes required to evaluate others in a particular area?

I concluded that the idea of non-judgment was similar to the idea of place sharing, in that we put ourselves in the position of another and respond to them as we would like to be treated.  To me, this sounds very much like the Golden Rule:  “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matt 7:12, NLT).  A verse found earlier in this same chapter of Matthew speaks about how “the standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” (7:2. NLT). 

My mother-in-law recently passed away from Alzheimer’s disease after suffering with it for several years.  In the last few years of her life, we could not converse with her normally, so our visits to the nursing home became a strain.  How do you communicate your presence and support to someone who is plainly off in another world?

Our first inclination was to get caught up in judgment, reasoning that since she could not communicate normally, she was also incapable of recognizing our presence and concern.  Her condition made it unpleasant for us to visit (more judgment).  We could not fix or cure her situation by our visits, so why bother?

As I sat by her bedside one day, I happened to remember when I was awaiting surgery nearly sixteen years ago, feeling very dopey due to the preliminary anesthetic, and my mother was sitting with me.  “Do you want me to go?” she asked, seeing how I could barely keep my eyes open.

“Just talk to me,” I said, wanting to feel the comfort of her presence. So she told me about what she had been doing, whom she had talked to in the grocery store, whom she planned to visit.  Although nothing she told me was of any consequence, her presence with me took my mind off the surgery and comforted me.

As I sat by my mother-in-law’s bed remembering this, I decided that I would begin handling my weekly visits to see her in the same way, as if she were drugged but still in need of a familiar voice and comforting presence.  So I began to recount to her everything I had been doing that day, from the loads of laundry to cleaning the bathroom.  That was the extent of our visits, yet by not judging her situation and my response to it, I was able to share the burden of her situation, at least a little, and perhaps give her some comfort.

While my mother-in-law’s situation was one where non-judgment, presence, and place sharing were the best (maybe the only) options, I think these concepts have important roles to play in all our interactions, even those that call for us to thoughtfully evaluate another’s actions.  We spend a lot of time making judgments, many of which are unhelpful and unnecessary.  The times when we are required to make a judgment can be tempered or made more effective by remembering the Golden Rule, and treating those we must evaluate with kindness and compassion, understanding their situation and sharing that place, even if it’s only by our presence.

            ~by Nan Kuhlman

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