“I used to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.” ― Paul McCartney
The definition of Mindfulness that I use comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the modern mindfulness movement. It states:
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” Jon Kabat-Zinn
One of the biggest elements of the practice of Mindfulness is the non-judgemental element. We are filled with “self-talk”, with thousand’s of thoughts flowing through our monds per day. Many of these are where we are reflecting and often ruminating. Typically, along a negative path. Thoughts such as:
“I can’t do this…..”; “I keep failing at….”; “Why does it always happen to me?”;
“I am no good at….”; “It will never work….” You get the picture.
What is so amazing, is that up to 70% of most people’s thoughts are negative. We fill our minds every day with negativity. When you consider we have up to 70,000 thoughts per day, that means upwards of 49,000 negative self-hits. We are constantly beating ourselves up thinking we are failing. All too often we find it difficult to accept what we’re feeling. A common pattern is to experience some initial unpleasant experience and then to feel bad because of feeling bad, and then to feel bad about feeling bad about feeling bad, and so on. It’s a vicious cycle of feeling bad about feeling bad.
So, what does Mindfulness do to counteract this?
Recognition: The first aspect of the meditation practice is to recognise that you do have these negative and judgemental thoughts. No matter how much you practice, you will never get rid of them totally. The benefit of regular pracice is that the number and frequency will decline over time.
Diary: You can use a mindfulness diary and write down all the judging, evaluating, appraising and so on thoughts that go on in your mind during the course of a short period of time, say half an hour. Don’t be shocked if you find hundreds of jjudgmentsgoing on. Afterward, note down any patterns in your likes or dislikes. For example, do you mainly judge yourself, other people, life, the government or activities you engage with, or just everything? The starting point to any change is to understand what you are seeking to change.
Patience: Be patient in your practice. When you start to practice and you are asked to concentrate on your breath, you will notice that your thoughts will drift off. Don’t judge yourself. Accept that it will happen. And simply return to the basics of the breath. The in breath. The out breath.
Acceptance: Acceptance indicates that you’re prepared to do a reality check. Acknowledging that, for example, you drink too much, sleep too little, feel down in the dumps or bad about choices you’ve made. You can feel that if you accept things as they are, at least for now, you may never be able to change them, but as the song says, this ‘ain’t necessarily so’. In fact, the exact opposite may be the outcome when you’ve faced your demons.
Compassion: One of the best practices is called the Metta Bhavana, or Development of Loving Kindness meditation. This practice directly addresses the idea of forgiving yourself, other people, events and situations and brings you to a sense of peace and wellbeing.
There are many different approaches that you can take. Some that work for me, might not work for you and visa versa.
I have found that being non-judgemental has become more than just a practice by practice thing. It pervades my whole waking day. When I am in a traffic jam and someone jumps the queue, I am less judgemental and quick to anger. When some does not complete a deadline at work, I am more forgiving and patient with them. Does this mean I never get cross, ofr judge people? I still do, but much less than before I started Mindfulness.
If you would like any help, or would like further details on the Loving Kindness practice, do get in touch.
I leave you with the following quote:
“Of course we need to accept ourselves as we are, but we can’t stop there. We also need to value ourselves enough make needed changes.” ― Steve Goodier