Awareness of Judging

One of my biggest goals for 2012 is to increase my awareness. I believe in the value of mindfulness and paying attention to what comes up. I had this goal last year, too, and besides the gratitude part, I don’t think I did enough to progress on my goal. This year, one of the things I did was to sign up for a class called Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. I originally signed up for the class at a local hospital but then, at the last minute, a new session opened up at work, so I got lucky enough to get in.

This class was also highly recommended by my TMJ doctor so I was excited to begin. It started last Thursday and I’ve only been to one session so far. We also had an all-day silent meditation as part of the class this past Sunday. (as I mentioned briefly here.)

I haven’t read any of the materials yet but I have begun the homework which is doing 20-40 minute body-scans (links to PDF) every day. I’ve also been listening to Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance each morning as I sketch. I don’t know if it’s coincidental or not but I’ve been feeling a lot better emotionally and psychologically.

The first class also introduced the idea of non-judging awareness and awareness of judging (links to PDF). And this idea is exactly what I was looking for out of a class like this.

I love the idea of bringing awareness to your judging. The idea of stepping back and looking at your judgement from a third-person point of view and then being able to stop yourself so you don’t judge but you’re just aware. It’s amazing how often things come up to the surface and we attack them with judgement immediately. Being ashamed of sadness, or being angry or frustrated. There’s so much judgment involved that it’s hard to see the truths beneath it. The ability to separate yourself from judgement gives you the ability see yourself truly and to dig deeper and wider and understand what’s at the core of your feelings/thoughts so you can truly understand them. You’re not slapping them away or burying them in the sand.

This piece of the article really summed it up for me:

If you stay with it, this process of self-inquiry can give you practical solutions to situations in your life. It can also shift your inner state quite radically. Real discernment, I’ve always found, starts with the willingness to ask questions. If you keep asking those questions, you will often get to the place where there are no answers at all, the place where you are just…present. Judgments dissolve in that place. Then you don’t have to strive for discernment; discernment is as natural as the breath.

Removing the striving is such a huge deal. Not trying to be but just being. Just looking at what is and not putting judgement on it. Even just being aware of how much I judge has been eye-opening for me. It allows me to pay attention. To notice what went unnoticed before.

I know these ideas are hard to integrate. Like most things of value, they require consistent practice. They require persistence and not giving up. But, if the last few days are any indication, they come bearing immense gifts for my soul.

And, for that reason alone, they are worth pursuing.

Let’s see what the next few weeks bring; I know there are quite a few more gems on the path.

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