Listening to a song sung with sweet authenticity, touching a gift crocheted, knitted or carved by the hands of a loved one or eating food that has been lovingly prepared for me, I offer appreciation to the ones who crafted the work. I want to tell them how wonderful their gift is and how it has touched me. Showing appreciation in this way feels so good, especially if the Crafter is open to receiving my praise.
When our appreciation is wholehearted and pure, untainted by envy, comparison, pity, obligation or inferiority, it feels joyful. It is an unconditional joy that we feel for the other person, in their moment of creative expression. Offering our praise like this can feel like opening our heart and showing the place inside we have been touched by the offering. A well-spring deep within that alchemises appreciation into praise. The source of our love for life. Our willingness to be here. When appreciation flows from our well-spring to that of another it is as though praise bridges the space between us and in that moment, we are connected by a current of life.
When our praise is met with cold, awkwardness or contradiction we can feel a sense of rebuff or rejection. We opened ourselves wide, gave fully our appreciation, and hit a wall. Amidst this uncertainty we may reach for a remedy to heal our hurt, perhaps turning to blame and shame. Somehow feeling like it is our fault and that our praise was wrong. These experiences can lead us to avoid offering praise so readily in the future. To shut down from appreciation. At these times it helps to pause, take a breath and rest back in a nonreactive state and watch the sensations and emotions unfold until they dissolve by themselves.
Sometimes it feels hard to receive praise from others. That openness can feel uncomfortably vulnerable. There may even be a habit of turning away from it, pushing it away or avoiding it altogether. Perhaps some old programming within tells us praise is wrong, we don’t deserve it and should feel ashamed when it is offered. Rejecting praise is like damning a river, or plugging a spring. We cap the flow and the person who offered their praise to us is left up to their neck in it. Gasping for air and for a foothold.
To receive praise whole heartedly, is to open and accept the words of another. To meet their appreciation and take it inside to our source. To carry their offering of praise direct to the source of our creativity. The place where the song was sung from, the crochet hat emerged from, the food was prepared from. To carry the love of beauty to the source of beauty, the love of life to the source of life, love back to the source of love. We take the praise on behalf of something far greater than our self.
As well as appreciating the craft of human hands, we appreciate the art of tree, hill, sky, sea, bird, stone, wind, fire, river...To appreciate and praise nature in many forms cultivates purity and joy within and connects us to the source of life. There are infinite ways to do this if we would like to, and we can find our own and borrow from our ancestors and from other cultures: Sitting in a place in nature and listening with full attention, decorating trees and wells, singing or playing music out in nature, swimming in the sea, paying attention to the small details of the changing seasons, painting or photographing nature or writing poetry, tending a garden or outdoor space for the love of it...Nature receives every breath of our praise through leaves, roots and rocks. There is no filter of self-doubt, no frame of polite modesty, no wall of shame in tree, river or stone! When we offer our boundless praise to nature it is welcomed into the vastness of life and drawn deeply to the source, bridging the space between our longing and that which we long for.