Cultivating mindfulness requires a little more than just following a set of instructions or guided meditations. In practising mindfulness, you will have to bring your whole being to the process. You can’t just assume a meditative posture and think something will happen or play a tape and think that tape will ‘do something’ for you. The attitude with which you undertake the practise of paying attention and being in the present is crucial.
These attitudes are both needed for practising mindfulness and are in turn cultivated by its practise. Each one relies on and influences the degree to which you are able to develop the others. Working on any one will rapidly lead you to the others.
In a series of small blogs, Urban Mindfulness will discuss the different attitudes that form the pillars mindfulness practise.
1 – Non-Judging
For the next 10 minutes, try and notice how many times you judge something (for example, this blog). Most likely you’ll find that there is a constant stream of subtle and not so subtle ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ being stamped on almost every experience. We react to most experiences in terms of what value it can have for us. Some things, events or people will be categorised as ‘good’ because they make us feel good. The opposite is true for things that make us feel ‘bad’. The rest is categorised as neutral and is almost completely tuned out from our awareness. We usually find them the most boring to give attention to.
This constant stream of judging helps save energy, but also has the tendency to lock us in automatic reaction patterns that dominate our minds. If you want to be able to deal more effectively with stress, the first thing to do is to become aware of these patterns. With mindfulness you will be working towards being able to step out of these patterns, therefore being an impartial witness of your own experience is important.
It requires that you become aware of the constant stream of judging. When you find the mind judging, you don’t have to stop it from doing that, it would be unwise to even try! All that is required is to be aware of it happening. No need to judge the judging and make matters even more complicated for yourself.
See if you can experiment with this for yourself. Recognising the judging mind on any given moment during your everyday life or perhaps during a meditation, when attention to the breath becomes ‘boring’ or restlessness is judged as a big ‘dislike’.