Judgments are the recurring knee-jerk reactions to individuals, places, and things. Most judgmental thoughts are built on our memories- the narrative of our lives and past life experiences. Repeating these judgments strengthens and deepens these patterns of unconscious. If our judgments are negative, we create drama, stress, and worry when harmful; however, if it’s positive, they imagine over the next time. In either case, our judgmental thoughts distract us from the present moment and can cause pain and harm for ourselves and others. Though our minds can always make judgments, there are easy ways to decrease and reverse these negative thoughts in our mats for yoga and cushions for meditation.
Why Practice Non-Judgment
When we practice non-judgment, or simply looking at things in life without having an opinion, letting go of our reactions, and viewing the situations as they are. This takes us away from the future, either hypothetical or past, and brings us into the present, which allows us to see the beauty in everything. When we are less prone to judgmental thinking, we cause less damage and can perceive the world more clearly.
Benefits of engaging in non-judgmental practice
Enhances mindfulness and awareness* Helps cultivate more gratitude
Reduces stress and worries.
Helps make wiser decisions
Helps to maintain a calm mind
Increases the expression of love towards you and other people.
How to Stop Judging in Yoga and Meditation
To practice non-judgment at first, you must begin by recognizing judgmental thoughts and thoughts when they happen. Label your judgments as positive or neutral for the following day (or maybe for the next 15 minutes, you’ll be amazed at the frequency they appear! ).
It is important to let go of any emotions or beliefs you create from these opinions. This means practicing equanimity to every thought or experience. It’s not the same as being numb or insensitive towards life or changing into a robot without emotions (our brains judge and evaluate for reasons! ). It’s merely an exercise in identifying and keeping a more peaceful state.
Non-judgment in Meditation
Meditation and mindfulness exercises are ideal settings to practice judgment because we are already focused on the present. Before you begin your meditation, establish the intention of not judging yourself for thoughts of your mind, emotions, and other thoughts that will eventually come to the surface. During your meditation, Instead of becoming angry that you’re making dinner plans, moving your foot, or thinking while you shouldn’t be thinking, embrace each moment as part of the meditation process. Remember that there’s no way to judge a good meditation.
Though we often focus more on negative judgments than others, this is not true in neutral or positive circumstances. If, for instance, you notice colors or the sensation of bliss in meditation, instead of becoming exuberant, remember that “good meditation” is also a judgment. Return to your breathing.
Non-judgment in Asana
We don’t always realize how often we criticize ourselves in a yoga class. When you think you are “good” or “bad” in the same yoga posture, note that neither characteristic is intrinsic to the asana. Maintaining a steady position in the tree is not superior to falling off a tree posture, like trees in nature are neither better nor worse when it’s blowing on the wind or blowing in the wind. They’re just different types of beings. In the same way, do not judge yourself in comparison to others! Our bodies are unique; each one has unique needs and capabilities when it comes to physical exercise.
In letting ourselves not judge our actions, we realize that yoga is about breathing in each pose and paying attention to how our bodies, minds, and states of mind flow between practice and practice or through an entire practice. We can observe ourselves and reflect on every moment with no judgment and a sense of clarity.
Adopting a non-judgmental mindset is beneficial to develop compassion for yourself and other aspects of your life that you do not like. The Buddhist practice of meditation on Metta, also known as loving-kindness, can aid in developing a non-judgmental attitude towards the positive, neutral, and of course, even the bad.
As with all other practices that require us to not let judgments rule our lives is a time-consuming effort. But, the more we engage in not judging yoga and other practices, the more we’ll be able to practice in other areas of our lives. Also, the more often we work on not judging ourselves, the more likely we are to not be judgmental of other people. If we can take everything in its entirety and accept everything as it is, we create a calm and balanced space for our mind and heart and feel a deeper feeling of belonging to that surrounding us. By recognizing the thoughts of judgment and not attaching to opinions, we encourage peace and harmony throughout our lives, on and off the yoga mat.