Think – Day 9 – It’s Non-Judgment Day!
“The first skill to learn is the art of letting go of the human inclination to judge ourselves and our performance as either good or bad. Letting go of the judging process is a basic key to the Inner Game. When we unlearn how to be judgmental, it is possible to achieve spontaneous, concentrated play.” – W. Timothy Gallway
As he refers to ‘play’ here, you can simply change that out with the word ‘life’.
And this topic of ‘UN-learning’ judgment is a immensely critical to self-awareness, virtually all teachers of mindfulness teach it as foundational. Jon Kabat-Zinn said:
“Mindfulness is cultivated by assuming the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience and just observe it. To do this requires that you become aware of the constant stream of judging and reacting to inner and outer experiences that we are all normally caught up in, and learn to step back from it.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
We are becoming aware of the ‘stream of judging’ through meditation practice, and we are learning to re-focus our attention elsewhere.
That is one way to just step back from it.
And the first step is of course to become AWARE of the thoughts, and recognize they are NOT US.
The next step is to let go of classifying our thoughts as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or even classifying our ability to control them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
We need to let go of all good/bad value judgments of ourselves and begin just observing.
This can be a very hard thing…because most of us have been conditioned since we were born to view everything as either good or bad.
“Good boy!” “Bad Dog!!” You know the drill. It’s engrained in our speech and thought patterns as a society…so it can be hard to kick!
The suggestion here is NOT to attempt to get rid of considering anything as good or bad ever again.
But…for the most part, value judgments are unnecessary and generally they only serve to bind you down, destroy your peace, and hold you back from soaring freely through the clouds of mindful awareness!
You can choose to simply observe situations and thoughts as they are.
There is no requirement that says you must continue clouding everything with your opinion of its inherent value.
“Judgments are our personal, ego reactions to the sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts within our experience.”
“Letting go of judgments does not mean ignoring errors. It simply means seeing events as they are and not adding anything to them.”
“Judgment results in tightness, and tightness interferes with the fluidity required for accurate and quick movement. Relaxation produces smooth strokes and results from accepting your strokes as they are, even if erratic.” – W. Timothy Gallway
Now, you notice he’s talking about tennis strokes being fluid, but do you see the application in every other area of life?
Judgment also creates tightness in your thinking, and slows you down mentally.
The minute you start judging it’s like stepping into a swamp of sludge that bogs you down.
You can stay light, free, uninhibited, and capable of actually observing what’s truly going on in life if you refrain from casting value judgments.
Let’s apply this to your creation of this very habit of meditation we are working on.
If you think to yourself “I’m not good at this”, because you have a hard time staying present more than 2 seconds at a time…guess what?? That is muddying the waters.
Let it go! It doesn’t matter if you are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at this, that judgment of yourself isn’t serving you.
This same applies to every area of life…change, growth, and progress can all happen fast when you let go of the value judgments of yourself and others.
“The first step is to see your strokes as they are. They must be perceived clearly. This can be done only when personal judgment is absent. As soon as a stroke is seen clearly and accepted as it is, a natural and speedy process of change begins.”
“When the mind is free of any thought or judgment, it is still and acts like a perfect mirror. Then and only then can we know things as they are.”
“But to see things as they are, we must take off our judgmental glasses, whether they’re dark or rose-tinted. This action unlocks a process of natural development which is as surprising as it is beautiful.” – W. Timothy Gallwey
Alright…this all sounds grand and wonderful and simple right?
Well…it really is…there is no need to complicate it. It starts and ends with awareness…but this takes practice.
We will flesh this out more tomorrow. For today, start observing your judging thoughts when they arise during meditation.
Then simply do your best to turn your attention back to your one word repeatedly.
Make today amazing!