I decided September would be the month of non-judgment because I want to work on the way I react to situations and other people. We can’t help but make judgments, it is a necessary part of the human condition. Judgment is “the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions,” and I want to make sure I ado so fairly and consciously.
In Buddhism, the concept of non-judgment cannot be simply explained as not judging. It is a combination of practicing mindfulness and awareness of the present moment, and learning to see past the illusion of duality.
This blog article from psychcentral did a nice job of explaining how non-judgment and mindfulness relate to one another:
The reason non-judgment is used is because left alone the brain will automatically judge things as good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair, important or unimportant, urgent or non-urgent and so on. This happens so fast that our experiences are automatically colored right when we get to them, so mindfulness is about being aware of that and taking a fresh perspective. – Elisha Goldstein, PhD.
A love centered attitude is the foundation of my practice of non-judgment. In addition to the adoption of this attitude I have also broken it down into three primary steps that help me take a mindful approach to non-judgment:
Before I judge a person or situation I try to accept things as they are first. This helps me avoid making a hasty negative judgment. It also helps me find a way to empathize or view the situation compassionately. When I approach a situation from a seat of acceptance before I make a judgment I am less likely to run away from or fight the problem, thereby side-stepping an Ego based reaction.
Prejudice is a fixed and inflexible judgment often based on hasty generalizations. If you approach a situation with prejudice the odds that you will make an unfair judgment increase exponentially.
Can we avoid prejudice? There are some who believe we simply can’t , but I think that through awareness and mindfulness we can learn to identify and eliminate unfair prejudice in our judgments. If I didn’t believe it was possible I wouldn’t even try, so I have to at least be open to the possibility!
The truth is, people surprise me everyday. I think I know someone based on assumptions I have made about the way they talk or dress, or where they grew up, etc…but I always end up looking silly when I do this because people simply do not fit neatly into categories. Love is the key to avoiding prejudiced judgments. Acting from a seat of love means accepting someone unconditionally, which renders prejudice irrelevant.
Negative emotions have a tendency to assail us and make us react to things before we reflect. For some of us the impulse is stronger than others, but we do not have to fall prey to our own emotional reactions. There are numerous techniques that can help you see through emotional reactivity. Even pausing to take a few deep breaths can make a big difference before we react to a situation. The point is to take time to gracefully make a reasonable judgment, rather than letting our emotions speak for us. Eckhart Tolle refers to the part of our energy field in which we carry our emotional baggage as the pain body.
The emotional pain body can be either dormant or active. For some people the pain body might be active all the time yet for most people the pain body becomes activated in certain situations like intimate relationships or specific situations linked with past loss, abandonment, betrayal, financial struggles, fears and psychological, emotional, physical hurt.
Anything can trigger it, especially if it RESONATES with the pain pattern from your past.
Compassionate awareness can help us transcend the pain body. This can be very difficult depending on how closely the trigger resonates with you. The pain body will fight to survive and try to convince you to give in to your negative emotions, and trust me, it can be very convincing. Just do your best to be aware and try to observe your pain body. The pain body can only survive when it is an unconscious force, when you bring it into awareness it will shrivel and die.
Once you learn to tell the difference between your pain body and your higher self you will be able to make non-reactive judgments that are fair and reasonable.
Ultimately it is not the role of individuals to judge one another’s actions. We should only use judgment to discern what is good or bad for ourselves. The only exception to this rule is small children, and even then we should be very careful in how we guide them. Ultimately, final judgment takes place between an individual and his or her Divine Source/Creator/God and that relationship is personal and sacred.