How’s your slow-waking morning meditations going? If you miss any days never worry about how many. That’s irrelevant. Just do it as much as you can and it’ll grow on you. This week we’re going to focus on one particular type of thoughts. As we work to quiet your mind, it’ll be easier if you focus on one type of thoughts at a time. Trust me, that will keep you pretty busy.
We’re going to start the expansion of your awareness by focusing on judgments. The reason I like these as a teacher is because they’re very stark examples of one of the most frequent and painful things we do to ourselves and to others. Our familiarity with judgment makes us unconsciously aware of the difference between the feeling you get from an external judgment versus the feeling you get when you attack yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up if you catch yourself doing a lot of judging… because of course that’s just more judging. But do notice a) how much of it you do, and b) the origins of what you say, and c) the feelings you get when you do it. After that you’re wise. And you’re a decent human being. In the deepest part of you you don’t want to hurt anyone, including yourself. But for a while you’ll beat yourself up anyway. You’ll think you feel badly because the insults you say to yourself are true, when in fact the reason you feel terrible is because saying those things to yourself hurts–so stop!
Learn to switch out. Use that pain. Red flag! Danger! Wrong way! And shift your thinking. Even if you never catch it, just noticing you missed it means that you were more aware than you were previously. So you’re already going in the right direction–you have the you that did the thinking and the other you that watched. Even if you rang the alarm too late–at least there were two identities. The more time you spend with them both the more you’ll realize that one is more like the shadow of the other, and you’ve been innocently and accidentally living as the shadow.
You have a lot to look forward to. A quiet mind is so creative that it’s like a vacuum for meaningful experiences. It always feels comfortable even if it’s uncomfortable. No envy, no guilt, no grudges. Easy. Just watch for judgments. Count them per hour and then zero out and start again. See what your best hour is. How few judgments will you catch yourself making to yourself or out loud? Trust me: you do it almost all day long. You might want even score internal attacks separately from external ones.
Remember: don’t think you’re getting worse because you feel crappy. That’s just because you’re becoming conscious of how often you make yourself feel crappy. But trust me: if you just keep watching yourself you’ll naturally start associating the thoughts with the feelings and you will make the shift all on your own because your natural wisdom will guide you toward the most rewarding choices available.
Get your “judgment score” down. No rating drivers, co-workers, friends, schedules, news stories, the weather, anecdotes, yourself–anything. Learn to be clear, with no opinion. You can experience things much more intimately if you’re not blinded by a perspective. Judgments make things go away. Remove the judgments and even your ego disappears.
Don’t forget to have fun. Do your morning gratitude exercise, then start to watch for judgments and I’ll be back tomorrow to expand upon the lesson. Big hugs. Take care everyone.
Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.