Preparing for another weekend of presentations and writing breakouts at PAMF’s Physician Wellbeing Conference, I wanted to become more intimate with praise and blame. So I listed to a talk by James Baraz on the subject. His guided reflections helped me explore my vulnerability when praise or blame arise.
If you’d like to explore these guided reflections, take a few minutes when you are relaxed and not easily distracted. Find a comfortable position (sitting, lying down) and let the following words wash over you:
“When someone praises me…” See if any thoughts or images arise in response to this phrase. Are there words, feelings in the body? Breathe with whatever is happening, and give the thoughts, feelings, images, or words space to be just as they are with kindness, without judgement if possible.
When someone praises me, I feel grateful for the opportunity to be of meaningful service. As years pass, I’m learning more that I am a conduit of Spirit and less of a solid, fixed identity called Kaveri (thought I am still attached to this identity!). My chest feels warm and open as my heart connects to this person’s heart
A similar reflection can be done with the following words. “When someone blames me…” I usually feel small, less than, incomplete. My husband often says he knows exactly what I’m feeling by reading my lips and jaw. My lips purse and my jaws tighten as if criticism has taken up permanent residence here. In addition, my throat feels heavy and constricted while my chest and belly feel like they’ve just been punched.
In times like these, it’s helpful to remember I’m not always at fault. Maybe the other person is confused and I just happen to be the closest target. Once I’ve had a chance to calmly reflect on the situation, I might find I am responsible for some unskillful act. I then have an opportunity to make amends. Whatever the case may be, I would like to respond to the reflection this way. When someone blames me, I might take it personally. May I remember to breathe.
A final reflection could be asking the question, “What would help me to remember my true self, my true nature in the face of praise and blame?”. For me the answer would come from silent contemplation, a lens that would help me see and appreciate a wider perspective of understanding than my zoomed in view of an inflated of deflated self. Meditation, yoga, writing, and nature help me cultivate this wider perspective. Conversations with objective, wise beings also help.
Whatever you choose to do with these contemplations, may you catch a glimpse of your true nature – a steady reflection of The Divine that cannot be blurred by any ripples from rocks thrown into your pond.