Who Do You Want to Be When You’re Not a Judge?
From time to time we post an essays written by the students in our 200 Hour Teacher Training Program as part of their homework. This is one student’s essay.
I was recently listening to a podcast and this is the question that took root in my thoughts long after it had ended. Funny, but I didn’t think of myself as judgmental. I made observations. I’d think, “She shouldn’t have done that.” Observation, right? I’d think, “He’s squandering his money.” Observation, right? I’d think, “She’s so needy. Well, she is!” Observation, right? Then, why did the question attached itself to me unless I needed to make a shift in my thinking. I genuinely did not want to be the judge!
So, I asked myself, “Who do I want to be?” It’s a bit of a daunting question. But three attributes came to mind without hesitation – I wanted to be kind; I wanted to be compassionate; and I wanted to be grateful. So, where to begin? The niyamas say, “pay attention…watch yourself…become self-aware.” Svadhyaya (or self-study) creates the space that allows you to observe your own behavior and initiate appropriate changes. Isvara Pranidhana says it will provide what I need when I need it. Armed with a team like this, how could I miss?
“Success is measured not by eliminating all random thoughts but by quickly noticing the random thoughts and returning to a quiet mind. “
I started by trying to monitor my thoughts – I was on the lookout for judgments. When I recognized one, I acknowledged it and then reminded myself of who I wanted to be – kindness, compassion and gratitude. This exercise paralleled my experiences with meditation. A quiet mind is interrupted by random thoughts. The meditator acknowledges the thought, thanks it for coming, and sends it on its way. Success is measured not by eliminating all random thoughts but by quickly noticing the random thoughts and returning to a quiet mind. Similarly, I acknowledged the judgment, appreciated that I recognized it and reminded myself that I was choosing kindness, compassion and gratitude.
How’s it going, you ask? Am I ready to retire my flowing robes and gavel? Not yet. I’d say I am a work in progress. The baby steps I have made were predicated upon a desire to find the balance between vigilantly being on the lookout for judgments (hard) and not beating myself up when they do occur (soft). Over time I expect the judgments to diminish and kindness, compassion, and gratitude to expand because where the mind goes, prana goes!
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