How to Stop Judging Yourself: Practicing Non-Judgement On the Mat & Off
Most of us could benefit by becoming a little less judgemental – and not just in yoga class. Here are a few tips for practicing non-judgement, both on and off the yoga mat…
We, humans, are judgemental creatures, and while part of this is a biological survival instinct designed to help us form closer ties with a group or tribe, it can also be quite destructive – both to ourselves and to our relationships with others. Judging others (and ourselves) takes us out of the present moment, and may cause harm and suffering both to ourselves and other people.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to stop our judgemental thoughts, especially if they have become habitual. However, we can learn to reduce these harmful thoughts, and become more accepting both of our own flaws and faults, and of others as well.
Yoga and meditation offer us useful tools for reducing our judgemental habits. By learning to practice non-judgement both on and off our yoga mats, we can learn to accept and observe the world around us without creating stress and anxiety within or attaching ourselves to a particular outcome or result in our lives. This lesson teaches us to appreciate ourselves as well as the world around us, and to see things with more clarity and less bias.
Here are more benefits of practicing non-judgement, according to YogaBasics.com:
• Promotes awareness and mindfulness
• Cultivates more gratitude
• Reduces stress and worry
• Helps make wiser decisions
• Boosts productivity
• Fosters a peaceful mind
• Increases authentic self-knowledge
• Deepens expressions of love toward yourself and others
This sounds great, but how do you do it?
Resolving to stop judging ourselves (and others) is easier said than done, but the first step is just to start noticing when you have a judgemental thought. Don’t chastise yourself or feel bad about it – just look at your thoughts and identify whether each thought is a positive judgement, a negative judgement, or simply neutral. Try this for a few minutes at a time, and gradually begin noticing your thoughts and attitudes throughout your day. Again, don’t judge yourself for judging – just observe! Then, practice showing compassion to yourself and other aspects of life and people that you judge.
Here are a few more tips for becoming less judgemental, both in your yoga practice and during meditation:
Non-Judgment in Asana
We often don’t realize how frequently we judge ourselves during a yoga practice. Next time you feel like you’re “good” or “bad” at a yoga pose, realize that these qualities are not inherent in asana. Maintaining a steady tree pose is not better than falling out of a tree pose, just as a tree in nature is no better or worse if it’s blowing in the wind; they’re simply different states of being. Similarly, stop judging yourself against others! Since our bodies are completely unique, each of us has different needs and abilities in a physical practice.
By not judging ourselves, we see that asana practice is simply about breathing through each pose and noticing how our bodies, minds, and states of being flow from practice to practice or throughout a practice. Without the veil of judgment, we create clarity to practice self-observation and self-reflection in each new moment.
Non-Judgment in Meditation
Meditation and concentration practices are perfect settings to work with judgment, since we are already focusing on the present moment. Before your meditation, set an intention to not judge yourself for the thoughts, feelings and other distractions that will inevitably surface. Throughout your practice, instead of getting upset with the fact that you’re planning dinner, moving a tingly foot or thinking when you’re not supposed to be thinking, accept each sensation as part of the meditation process and remember that there is no such thing as a bad meditation.
Although we commonly dwell on negative judgments more than others, the same goes for positive or neutral situations. For example, if you see colors or feel waves of bliss during meditation, instead of getting excited, recognize that “good meditation” is a judgment too. Then come back to your breath.
There are many benefits to cultivating an attitude of non-judgement in your life. To sum it all up…
By recognizing judgmental thoughts and not to attaching to judgments, we foster acceptance and harmony in our lives, both on and off the yoga mat.
Read more at YogaBasics.com…