We use judgement in our lives every day. We use it to decide what we want to wear, what we want to eat, where we’d like to go on holidays, in all of our decision making. Can we live without it?
Judgement based on past experiences or on information that is presented to us through other sources can be life-saving. We learn to avoid food poisoning by cooking and storing our food safely, we learn things that are hot can burn us, we learn that being in the presence of love makes us feel safe. This is useful for us, but does everything have to be judged all the time? Do we judge others so we can measure ourselves against them? Throughout our lives, we receive personal judgement from external sources – parents, teachers, employers, friends, colleagues, (and yes, even strangers) and we in turn react to these judgements. Perhaps the most judgemental person we know is ourself! Our inner critic creates a running dialogue of judgement that determines much of our behaviour and choices. Generally speaking, our self-judgement is biased towards negativity and is not always in our best interest.
So how can we practice change?
So many new meditators come to me saying they are hopeless at meditation, that they cannot stop their mind wandering, that they’ll never be able to do it and I challenge them immediately with these presumptions. Once they practice releasing judgement of their environment and themselves, they are amazed at their ability to change.
When we practice mindfulness we are practicing dropping judgement and simply allowing things to be as they are and ultimately, accept things as they are in the present moment. It takes practice! We have been taught since we were born to listen and learn from other people so we might live in society in an acceptable manner, wear the appropriate/expected clothing, and generally do what’s expected of us. It gives us a sense that we can control everything, however, for anyone who has faced a big trauma in their life, we know that this is not so. The only thing we can control is how we choose to react to a situation.
Practicing mindfulness during meditation allows us to let go of the need to control, to be comfortable with accepting life as it presents itself in this very moment, regardless of whether or not we “like” the sounds we’re hearing, the sensations we’re feeling, the emotions and thoughts we have. We learn that they just are! We move from judgement to “isness” – which essentially is the quality of being and that’s a nice place to visit.
Dropping judgement in mindfulness in meditation not only applies to the perception of what messages we receive through our senses; it also applies to how we react to our own experience and “ability” to meditate. Letting go of the need to strive to achieve an outcome in meditation and just accepting it however it comes each time leads to acceptance that every meditation is different, each one valuable and appreciated for its unique experience. Curiosity, awareness and acceptance grow in place of judgement and we learn to shift ourselves at will from judgement to acceptance, the more we practice, the more we cultivate inner peace.
I think judgement definitely has its place in life, but so does “no judgement”. Take time to notice how many of your thoughts are judgemental and whether that judgement is beneficial or simply habitual, you may be surprised at what you find.