Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda
news of our historic UU church in Ruthven (Kingsville), Ontario

The Power of Appreciation

January 25th, 2009 . by bonnie

The longest journey in the world is the sacred pilgrimage from the head to the heart.

I have been meeting several people the last few days. When people meet me and discover that I have lived as a monk in the past the conversation often takes a philosophical twist. One of my favorite ways to shift the discussion from the head to the heart is to invite people to say five things they love and appreciate about their partner.

It amazing how the energy in the room instantly changes. I ask people to look their partner directly in the eyes and tell them what they like and love in them. The receiver is asked to acknowledge each statement by saying “And so it is!” to receive the love!

Strangely enough I find that the longer couples have been together the harder it usually is for them to say 5 things they appreciate in their partner! Its a wonderful way to connect people with love.

Here is a powerful story on how appreciation can transform:

The lifestyle of the Babemba tribe in South Africa was featured a number of years ago in a TV documentary on Apartheid. Within that community, antisocial or criminal behavior is rare.

However, when it does occur, the Babemba have an interesting and beautifully creative way of dealing with it…

If a member of the tribe acts irresponsibly, he or she is placed at the center of the village. Work stops, and every man, woman and child in the village gathers around the accused in a large circle.

Then, one at a time, each individual, including the children, call out all the good things the person in the center of the ring has done previously. Each person in the village recalls the specific good things the person in the centre of the circle has

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done in his/her lifetime. All the positive attributes and the kind acts are recited carefully and at length. No one is permitted to exaggerate or be facetious.

The ceremony often lasts for many days and doesn’t stop until everyone has said every possible positive comment he or she can muster about the transgressor. Not one word of criticism concerning the accused’s irresponsible, antisocial deed is permitted.

At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe. Proof of the success of this creative response to wrongdoing seems evident in the fact that these ceremonies are quite rare.

This is an actual application of the spiritual teaching:

“Love me most, when I deserve it least!”

Let us all learn from the outstanding example of this tribe. Imagine what the world would be like if we used the power of appreciation in our families, schools, workplaces and communities!

Let us start today…appreciating in great detail the goodness in others!

Nithya Shanti

With permission from the author

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