We live our lives judging everything around us. In fact, I don’t really know about you. But I know that most of the time I do precisely that.
I tend to judge myself, judge other people, and judge the various situation that occur around me during the day.
More than I’d like to admit to myself, I tend to find certain people hard to like, I pick out their character flaws and judge their mistakes. All in all, I tend to judge everything.
Most of the time this happens automatically, without my wanting to do so. It is ingrained in how I observe the world around me. I hardly notice my judging most of the time.
The sad thing is I only become aware of this ever present mental activity afterward, and sometimes not even then.
But this realization doesn’t stop me from trying. I know I have to try, because it is so important.
Developing a non-judging attitude is such a life-changing opportunity.
It is a great thing when I manage to catch myself judging. Because than I can correct myself. I can stop my subjective take on the situation.
And whenever I manage to do so, I feel great, I feel so relieved, and light like a feather. My body and my mind both feel the benefits of my non-judging.
If you think you are an objective person, I urge you to think again. If you look hard enough, it is likely that you too will find yourself perceiving the world through judging it as good or bad.
Let me propose an exercise.
Practicing Non Judgment
Pick a time during the day at your convenience. Let’s say half an hour while sitting on a park bench for starters.
Make a conscious decision to let go of judging during that time. Decide that whatever happens during that half hour, your mind will stay silent. You are developing a non–judgmental mindset. You will just observe. You will be an objective, neutral observer.
Just be there, present in the here and now, not thinking about if the things that are happening are good or bad. Feel the sensations, the wind in your hair, the people passing by.
Don’t think about them, experience them, or shell I say feel them. Observe the phenomena, they are neither good or bad. They are just happening. Let them happen.
You are not the center of the Universe. You are not in charge of anything. You are not required to judge anything at all.
Can you do this for hafl an hour a day?
After all, this seems like an easy exercise. I know, it really does. But here is the deal.
I bet it won’t take 5 minutes before you find yourself judging something or someone. At lest that what’s happening to me.
Don’t be discouraged though. The exercise I just described is one of the most useful techniques for practicing non-judgment. Which brings me to…
Judging and Discerning
We all know what judging means. Discerning, on the other hand, is something different. If you discern, you don’t judge, you just perceive the objective state of how things are.
Whenever I’m discerning, I observe the objective reality around me. I notice details, I see the sunlight reflecting off the objects in my room, I hear the voices of my friend talking…
True discernment is a very alert state of mind. There’s no time for making comparison. Let me briefly explain what I mean by making comparison.
When we judge we usually compare how things or people are and how they should be. We are usually not satisfied with how things are and we want to turn them our way.
For example, a friend of mine talks like a businessman you’d find in Wallstreet, even during a casual conversation. It absolutely makes me want to stop him, but I never do that.
I just silently complain in my mind. This is a perfect example of judgment because I have a wish for him to be different and I disagree with the way he speaks even if I don’t reveal my dissatisfaction to him.
When it comes to people I don’t know, the situation is no different. I judge them very subtly and I do that by the minute.
That guy, he could eat less, that lady is so uptight, these people are inconsiderate, this car shouldn’t be parked here…
Always the same dissatisfaction and the same desire to change something the way I want.
Do you see how this leads to suffering? My own suffering. It simply prevents me to be happy in the present moment.
And please stay with me for just a moment. I have to make the following point.
The Good and the Bad
Really, who am I to know if something is good or not? How can I tell if something is good or not good?
Moreover, what appears to me to be bad, could turn out to be my greatest blessing! And often it does.
Likewise, what appears to be bad for the people I judge, might be their greatest blessing in the future.
Maybe the guy who is overweight has to go through that experience to realize how wrong his lifestyle has been, and to change it for the better. Who knows, he may then help thousands of people to deal with their weight problems.
Maybe the car that appears to be parked blocking pavement, is actually preventing some unfortunate turn of events otherwise doomed to happen.
And my judgment doesn’t help the people I judge either. It doesn’t ease their suffering.
Moreover, they sense my energy, if not consciously then on an unconscious level. They sense it, and it doesn’t help them feel any better, only worse.
My judgment hurts them. I send them negative vibrations, negative thought patterns, and negative emotions.
And if I judge my friends, for sure I’m not appreciating them enough, I don’t accept them for the kind of persons they are. I’m writing them off and there’s no room for dialog.
I’m focusing on just a several personality traits, neglecting many of their positive characteristics.
In addition, I may fell superior with respect to the personality flaws I judge, which makes me being self-centered and egoistical.
We are too limited as human beings in our understanding of the world to be able to tell what’s good for us. The best choice we have is not to judge but to totally embrace what God sends us our way.
In reality, things are neither good nor bad. And we should learn to go through the world without the heavy burden of judgment.
We can always make a conscious choice not to judge. And each time I do that, I feel great! Each time I’m ready to discern instead of judge, I start to feel the peaceful quality of acceptance and the blessed joy of letting go of clinging to my way how things should be.
If you decide to try non-judgment, start small and go from there. Nobody is asking you to practice non stop. I think it would be impossible.
Judging is part of our human experience. Decide to practice the above example from time to time. Or modify it to your needs. Give up your judgment every now and then. And accept what you experience too.
I honestly invite you all to shed the difficult burden of judging, and embrace the enlightened state of living without judgment.
The first step is to recognize your judgment.
The next step is to practice being a neutral observer.
Then, try to listen to your friends, their problems and dilemmas without judging. That will make a huge difference to you and to them as well.
Photo by Akash Malhotra