Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Power of Non-Judgment

At first glance it would seem impossible to function without judgment, How would we choose a career, a mate, or a car? Think about it for a few moments. Can you function effectively without judgments, without assessing the positive and negative qualities of an experience, person, or thing and then comparing them one to another? Isn't this what we do, all the time?

As it is such a constant part of our life, let's look at this mental habit a bit more carefully. When we judge we categorize an experience as either desirable or undesirable, according to our acquired tastes. Nothing, of course, exists that way from its own side. The qualities of desirable or undesirable are a superimposition of learned preferences onto inner and outer experiences. That is why no two individuals would grade any experience the same.

When we project our preferences onto the world, we simultaneously attach to certain experiences and people and push others aside. We seek to experience a world filled with pleasurable moments and absent of unpleasant ones. We strive towards getting what we prefer, and protect our self from what is seen as undesirable. We embrace half the world and reject the other half. This occupies much of our mental life. Our preferences and judgments are the basis of a perpetually over active mind, anxiety, and suffering. It may not seem that way at the moment, but that is an illusion. Our judgments are suffering in disguise.

This does not mean we cannot distinguish between words and actions that bring about suffering and those that bring about healing, choosing the latter is natural and does not require judgment. The choice for well-being is coded into our inner wisdom It is having an open and good heart.

For a moment, imagine yourself walking through an arboretum, enjoying the endless variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Is it possible to appreciate their different textures, colors, smells, and other qualities without comparing one to another? If you wanted to choose a plant for your garden could you do so by appreciating its different qualities while simultaneously experiencing the different qualities of the other varieties? Can there be choice in the absence of comparison and non-judgment? Think about it. Perhaps you can close your eyes for a moment and take yourself into that an arboretum, watching both the immediate tendency to judge and the innate capacity to experience, appreciate, and even choose without judgment.

Start with nature and then practice with humans, which is, of course, more difficult. But, we can observe and practice in much the same way. I know it is not easy, but consider whether it is possible to appreciate all individuals as they are. Is it possible to be in a complete state of acceptance of each and every individual with their light and dark sides? Can we choose who to befriend or whom to have as a mate based on their specific qualities rather than by comparing one to another?

When we are non-judgmental and cease to instinctively react to our preferences, we can live in a lovely appreciation and gratitude for the diversity of life and people. We live in the present moment. There is no inner dialogue of push and pull, attachment and resistance. There is no effort to control life in accordance with our preferences. We are free of the past, free of its influences. We are free to be and flow with life. A heavy burden is lifted from body, mind, and spirit.

Non-judgment is an act of kindness and compassion towards self and other. It is a healing elixir. It is a peacemaker for self and others. It is a surrender to life as it is, to reality as it is. It is a hard pill for our ego to take, as our ego comes to terms with its inability to organize the world around its perceived needs. It is an end to grasping, resisting, anxiety, and fear. It is the beginning of peace. That is the power of non-judgment. It is a healer.

Just try it for a few moments today. Try to stop automatic judgment. Rest your mind by accepting everything as it actually is. This does not mean that you cease making choices, but rather you allow choices to make themselves through an inner knowledge of heart and mind that is free of the past, free of judgments, free of comparisons. Be patient and allow an open space for knowing without mental preference. Try it in nature. Try it when listening to another impartially without an agenda or active commentary. Try it while speaking without reference to comparisons or judgments. Take life as it is with all its beauty and diversity. Do you feel more openness, heartfelt, easeful, content? Can you sense moments of authentic well-being?

Properly instructed meditation is a means of honing the skill of non-judgment, As thoughts, feelings, and mental images arise , we are taught to not to react to them - neither to attach, resist, or suppress their appearance. We are taught to observe them impartially without judgment or reactivity. We practice letting them be - noticing them, saying "hello," and allowing them to dissolve on their own. Continued practice allows us to extend this into day-to-day life.

Through these practices you will discover that non-judgment heals an overactive mind and dissipates disturbing emotions. It can take you on the quick path to enduring serenity, happiness, and well-being. Because this is not an outside remedy it is trustworthy, reliable, and always available as you move towards greater vitality and aliveness. That is the power of non-judgment.

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