Questioning Values

I’d been working outdoors at the Zen temple longer than I planned. Seasonal allergens have been bothering me. A friend hearing how allergic I was remarked about how generous I was to put my service before myself, “A true Boddhisatva” she remarked.

She was sincere. But I was not happy with myself for knowingly doing some injustice and violence to my body that has only me to count on for its well-being. I knew I was taking a risk when I left my home that morning. But I did so want to go!

“No”, I wanted to say to her, “This is not being a true Boddhisatva”. My personal practice, my challenge has been to be more mindful of taking care of myself, something I tend to neglect. Helping others and keeping busy comes easily to me and meets some other disguised needs.

We each have our growing edges. Someone who is disorganized has organization as a goal she constantly strives towards. At the other end is someone whose daily life is disturbed because he is obsessively organized. Each has their own challenge. One person strives to be more sensitive to others while another is learning to guard against being overly sensitive to others. Each seeks their own individual balance.

Does any part of this story resonate with you?

Question Marks

We often strive to absorb values we have inherited from our familial, religious or cultural backgrounds regardless of whether they benefit. Have you also been raised with beliefs and values that seem absolute? What are your values? Are there any that are good in themselves but that have gone beyond being guiding principles, but are rather sources of distraction from your life path?

I invite you to take a look at some of your values: being responsible, caring, a good mother or father, hardworking. Consider your beliefs in the areas of sexuality, wealth, religion, environmental sentiments, or health.

How do these values guide your daily life? How do they help you? We may find that we’re either buying into values handed down to us or we’re reacting to them. Either way, we’re not responding freely. Everything has a place in our lives: food or wine, meditation, sports, work, relationships… and awareness of their role makes all the difference. Awareness of our beliefs and values puts us in charge of them, giving us the freedom to truly choose how we want to use them. Only we will really know whether our actions come from a place of freedom or habit.

Take a moment to PAUSE!

Bring to mind a value or belief that you sense has a hold over you. Could it be how you value friendships, money, or food… Notice how it influences your perceptions, feelings, relationships…

See if you can observe with no value judgments. Is this something that is helping you or has it gone unquestioned in your life. Gently ask inside: am I using this value as a guide or is it using me?

Notice what surfaces and feel free to email me with what you discover.

2 thoughts on “Questioning Values”

  1. Joya, this resonates…about some values that take hold not for the right reasons perhaps but because they “meets some other disguised needs”…I appreciate your gentle reminders and the invitations to practice this introspection….thank you!!!

  2. You’re welcome! Yes, it’s a powerful relief to realize the ‘real’ needs we have and how we sincerely, though sometimes inefficiently, strive to get them met.

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