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In this series, we’ll sit down together with visiting teachers and explore important topics on how to live with courage, wisdom and compassion. This is our first installment, where we spoke with Jennifer Hadley about the the power of non-judgement. On our quest to live a more fulfilling and spiritual life, many of us are high achievers. We read the books, watch the videos and listen to podcasts. We have no problem putting in the intellectual footwork. But as Jennifer Hadley, a spiritual writer, speaker, and counselor knows all too well, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we know how to take this information to heart and transform our lives in the way that we desire. Jennifer’s programs are focused around what she calls a basic, fundamental spirituality – the simple truths and practices that can transform our lives in meaningful ways.
Walking the Talk with Spirituality
My classes are focused around understanding your spiritual truth in a way that you can apply it. What is important to me is teaching the ability to walk the talk and live the love. People really appreciate that, because so many spiritual students are doing all of this intellectual work, without really understanding how to take it into the heart. When you take it into the heart, it changes your life; it changes your relationships; it changes your relationship to your body; it changes your relationship to your finances, to your world and your career.
So that’s the deep work that I love to do – supporting people in the practical application of spiritual knowledge. It’s a great kind of a pain that spiritual students experience when they’ve studied and studied and studied, but their life isn’t really changing. They don’t feel like they are really getting the results that they think they should see, or they feel intuitively that they know they could have. They wonder, “What am I doing wrong? Is there something wrong with me? Am I damaged? Am I broken? Am I just not good enough to get this stuff? Why is it working for other people but not for me?”
Applying Spiritual Practice to Real Life Situations
What I’ve found consistently over many years of teaching is that people don’t really apply it; they don’t really live it; they don’t really see how to do that. They think that just having a meditation practice will make all the difference in the world, and it will support their spiritual development, it will be helpful, but it’s not enough. The spiritual practice that we might do in the morning and the evening, meditation and prayer – those things – well, they are like a warm up for living your spiritual practice all day long, and that’s the thing that transforms your life and it does it so quickly. It’s really amazing.
What I offer are concrete, simple tips and tools that people can use to really, truly change their lives, their relationships, and to feel so much better about themselves and about their life and what’s possible for them.
The Transformative Power of Non-judgement
The most important spiritual practice that I teach is non-judgment. Every time we are upset, every time we are afraid, every time we are annoyed, every time we feel sad or hurt, we are really upset because of our interpretation – because of the meaning we’ve made of it, and the interpretation that we’ve given to things is our opinion, it’s our judgment.
Here’s the great thing. You know how you’ve heard the saying, “The truth will set you free”? Well, the truth is what we really are. We are truth. God is truth. Life is truth. Love is truth. And so, when we are making up another story, we are going to be upset. I call it the divine alarm clock. When we are upset, it’s that divine alarm clock going off, letting us know we’ve moved into judgment; we’ve moved into opinion. Once we recognize that, we can set it aside and release our attachment to it.
Non-judgement is a rigorous practice to give up your opinions and your judgments, but people are amazed how, in a very short period of time, they can have a lot more peace. They can literally, just by dropping their own judgments, transform all the relationships they have.
Once they get the hang of non-judgement, they realize that they are the focal point of healing in their life. They realize they are powerful – they are not helpless, they are not hopeless, life is not happening to them, they are not a victim anymore, and they are empowered because they can make loving choices instead of judgmental choices. Instead of thinking thoughts of lack and attack, limitation and separation, they can think thoughts of joining together and sharing and being generous and being kind. So, it’s a very deep spiritual practice. It’s a trans-denominational spiritual practice, and it’s powerful. I have worked with thousands of people around the world who have transformed their lives so quickly by practicing non-judgment.
“Non-judgement is a rigorous practice to give up your opinions and your judgments, but people are amazed how, in a very short period of time, they can have a lot more peace.”
Love and Spirituality
Love is what we are. It’s the consciousness in which we dwell. It is the essence of who and what we are. You can’t even really say more about it. Love is the essence of the universe. Love is what God is. Love is what truth is. Love is what peace is. Love is the healer of all problems; all things that bother us. Love is the healer of everything because love is what we are.
When we travel away from a loving consciousness into judgment, into complaining, into blaming and shaming, into regret and resentment, then we are not being who we really are. That’s why the peace falls away, the harmony falls away, the prosperity falls away, the wholeness falls away. If we can always just go back to finding the most loving choice we can perceive in that moment, then we are back to being our true self, which is naturally harmonious and peaceful.
The main thing is to realize that you are it. You are it. You are one with everything, and as it says in A Course of Miracles, “Seek not to change the world, but to change your mind about the world.” We are these powerful beings, and we can express that power in any way we want. We can express it for good, or by creating disturbances, creating misery. The main thing is to realize that you have the power within you to live a loving life; to live a productive life, and it all comes through being loving.
At the Art of Living Retreat Center
I brought a group here to do a spiritual retreat and I have to say it has been the perfect environment for us. It’s so beautiful. The beauty is uplifting and inspiring and the place is deeply nourishing and healing to the spirit – so it’s the perfect place for us to do some deep spiritual work and still play and have fun. What I really love about the Art of Living Retreat Center is that the people here are so focused on being of service. There’s a deep sense of kindness.