Stop Judging – Take Back Your Power! Foundation of Mindfulness #1

At times, we form an opinion or conclude, deliberately or otherwise, only to find out that the story in our head is polluted. By judging, we work hard to build a wall and to protect ourselves and live securely. The problem with this stance in life is that it often prevents us from making meaningful and genuine connections with oneself and others. Although judging is an instinct, you can be aware of it and control your impulses. When you adopt a mindful outlook, you embark on the intelligence and wisdom track. The non-judging approach is the protective gear that will support you against unsound decisions and irrational reactions in life. Releasing judgment is stepping over self-made barriers to see and grasp “things as they are.”

Todd Schorr Art
Todd Schorr Art

The myths and sensationalized stories are good examples of our preconceived judgments. Overall, the side effects of judgments such as fear or condemning bad and good categories in our mental descriptions create prejudices, biases, and stress. The habit of categorizing is useful for filing systems, but when it comes to our life relations and connections at times, it limits our perspective and growth.

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Todd Schorr Art

How to remove the obstructive judgemental attitude? 

  • Be mindful- Recognize the judgments that unfold whether you are performing a task or when you are in fight-flight mode. Observe how your mind describes the situation: as mundane, suspicious, energetic, or any other attribute that influences your behavior or reaction to that particular circumstance. For instance, to observe our judgemental mind, practice breathing. Set a time and start paying attention to your breath, and indeed, your oblivious mind will begin harassing you by labeling your practice as boring. Basically, the approach is not to suppress your judgment but to be aware of it.
  • Don’t take it personally – I remember that when our son started high-school, the amazing principal recommended that as the parents of young teenagers, do not take their withdrawn behavior and uncommunicative reactions personally. Instead, be continuously loving, caring, and have a set framework of rules. Don’t snoop; they will eventually talk to you and tell you all about their adventure but on their own time. It was great advice, one that kept the peace. Or, as adults, it happens that you will encounter disagreements. As long as you remember that the conflict is not about you, it helps to detach the “me” connection and give others the benefit of the doubt.
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    Todd Schorr Art
  • rame – This approach is about not changing the facts but having an open mind to recognize that people have different ways of doing things or different perspectives. Instead of getting angry or miserable, channel your energy to pause and reflect. The challenge is to dive underneath the anger, and your oxygen tank is your ability to reframe. With regular practice, the efforts to reframe a situation become a habit, immensely rewarding, especially when you encounter setbacks. Reframing a problematic situation or dire circumstance allows you to transform the problems into possibilities and remain healthy, composed with a positive mindset.

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    Todd Schorr Art
  • Self-reflection – As soon as you start judging, try to ask yourself whether you have had the same or similar behaviour.

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    Todd Schorr Art
  • Don’t blame yourself or others- As much as the blame game is an easy defense mechanism, indeed, it is unproductive and unpleasant. The tendency to distort our self-esteem with blame is inept. Instead, see things as they are, and break away from blaming yourself or others. Again reframe the situation, replace words such as should to could or losses to learning experiences to make a pathway for much better opportunities.
  • Be a friend to yourself – Connect with your strength, intelligence, and love yourself. Dismiss negative thoughts and destructive criticism. When you stop judging, you will distance yourself from gauging others and assume an impartial approach in life. One that helps with mastering your mind.
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Todd Schorr Art

Featured image by: Todd Schorr

Beginner’s Mind – Foundation of Mindfulness # 3

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

Shunryo Suzuki

Past experiences and preconceived ideas have great value when it comes to making decisions about everyday activities. However, they are tainted to the degree that we cannot absorb the new reality of the present time or the face value of an action, a discussion, or a situation. It is always comfortable to skim through the information to support and validate our previous experience; nevertheless, we tend to lose the possibility of learning a new way of doing things or transforming our ideas for the better by seeing things with fresh eyes.

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Art by Magritte – The Human Condition

Everybody knows that some things are simply impossible until somebody who doesn’t know that makes them possible. - Albert Einstein

The real problem starts when you are an expert, one who has more assumptions than questions. Fending off new ways of doing things or not being receptive to new ideas happens to the experienced. An apprehension swishes and contaminates the mind, which in turn will end up either with cherry-picking to justify the established rules and practices or simply dismissal of the new approach.

When we adopt the mind of a beginner, we endeavour to look at things as if for the first time, free from the influence of the past or speculation about the future. We open ourselves to what is here now, rather than constructing stories about what we think is here. Much like a scientist who observes without bias, beginner’s mind allows us to collect raw data. This opens us up to new possibilities, rather than being confined by habits and conditioning. — Tracy Ochester.

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Art by Magritte – The treachery of images

A beginner’s mind is keen to meet a new person, have a fresh outlook on familiar people, or learn a new skill. Practicing beginners’ minds (or shoshin in Japanese Zen Buddhism) feeds a growth mindset. An outlook that refuses to have more of the same for the rest of its life knows well that the safety zone is not always the right place to be. It stales the mind and prevents you from growing and reaching your potential. By default, we prefer to stay in our comfort zone, yet adopting a growth mindset requires courage to embrace vulnerability and humility. To acknowledge that there is always a better way of doing things or when it comes to human relations, we give people the benefit of the doubt.

Ways to Cultivate a beginner’s mind

  • Adopt the notion that endless possibilities exist.
  • Switch off the autopilot mode. 
  • Be in the present moment.
  • Listen carefully when a familiar topic comes up; you don’t have to rush to express your opinion or add value; observe and ask questions like you didn’t know about the subject.
  • Explore something to re-experience the feelings; it can be basic as eating your meal or making your bed.
  • Stop labeling and notice that you are on auto judgment – Ask yourself why you consider things as bad, good, right, or wrong? Is it out of habit? Integrate seeing things in your life as they are!
  • Learn a new activity to integrate challenges to your comfort zone
  • Mingle with people who have a different view of life and explore their perspective and lifestyle.
  • Change a routine in your life, your walking route, exercise, or things you eat. 
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation – it weakens the habit of taking things for granted.

 

For more information, read “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Featured Image by aykutaydogdu