From time to time we might find ourselves blaming circumstance, people, even inanimate objects for our various misfortunes. Bursts of impatience and annoyance when things aren’t “going right” erupt like mini thunderstorms that thrash away and then pass quickly. Just like getting caught in one of those rainstorms, we're drenched and rather miserable afterwards. Then we might wonder why we release the lightning bolts that trigger unhappiness in ourselves and those around us in the first pace?
It’s the rather ridiculous behavior that we all know. What’s the first thing most of us do when we trip on an uneven sidewalk? Look back at the sidewalk, right? It’s so ingrained, so automatic--a flash of anger at the cupboard door when we bump our head. Sound familiar?
Why do mishaps have to be someone’s fault? What if we used the practice of equanimity and open awareness and just experienced what was going on before jumping to blame? The absurdity of flashing anger at the table on which we just banged our shin would be clear. We would be kinder to ourselves through not allowing annoyance to arise within. The table certainly doesn’t care one way or the other, it’s our decision whether to feel turmoil or calm while dealing with the pain.
It’s so easy to start blaming when it’s another person involved instead of a table. Sure, people do things all the time that most of us would agree are annoying and even hurtful. But jumping to that place of blame, of judging and looking at the supposed cause of discomfort, physical or emotional, does nothing for us except add to our suffering and unhappiness. There might be an appropriate time later to assess a situation, a relationship, calmly viewing what has transpired, but I’ve found that releasing blame is a freeing practice. Blame is often nonsense anyway and it fuels the side of myself that is not the person I want to be. Releasing blame feels fresh, as if unburdened from some bitterness. Letting someone off the hook rather than letting the sour feelings of blame stew inside is truly a gift to self.
Susanna Weiss is the Executive Director of the Community Meditation Center. She has practiced meditation since 2000, studying with Stephen Batchelor, Thich Nhat Hanh, Allan Lokos, Andrew Olendzki, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, and Sharon Salzberg. An ordained Interfaith minister, Susanna performs many wedding ceremonies throughout the year. She studied at The New Seminary and is a graduate of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. A former dancer, Susanna designs individualized physical programs for clients. She and her staff specialize in working with issues that need a creative approach.