How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
Benefits of Mindfulness: Mindful Living Can Change Your Life
Mindfulness 101: A Beginner's Guide
Learning to be less judgemental means we are more present, compassionate and happy. It reconnects us to each other, ourselves and life.
When you first start to meditate,
the first thing you discover, if
you haven't already, is the fact
that you have a voice in your head.
Not only do you have a voice in
the head, but it's a voice that
pretty much never stops talking.
It goes on and on incessantly,
from the moment you wake up to
the time when you go to sleep.
And for some of us, it won't even stop
then, doesn't let us get any sleep.
Now, this voice, very
often, isn't helpful.
It commentates on our lives all day long.
It likes and dislikes.
It makes judgements about everything.
He is, she is, I am, life is.
It labels things.
It compares us to everybody else.
It worries and plans for the future and it
constantly replays and regrets the past.
It makes up stories about our
lives, which often, don't actually
represent our reality at all.
It does all of this
quickly and automatically.
So judgments about all that we
encounter can quickly become
habitual and even automatic.
Often, we're not even aware we're
doing it, but this unyielding flow of
judgmental thoughts makes it difficult
to find any peace within ourselves.
The great majority of these stories
and judgments that the mind makes up
are what I would call snap judgements.
In other words, they're a quick reflexive
assessment of reality of what's happening.
And therefore many of them
are incomplete and inaccurate.
Some of them are quite unconstructive.
And many of them can generate negativity,
stress, and deeper forms of suffering.
In fact, the Buddha once said that our
own worst enemy could never harm us
as much as our own unwise thoughts.
And this feels really true
when you look at the suffering
our thoughts can cause us.
Imagine this scenario.
You're lying in bed one morning.
You wake up/ you open your eyes
and you look out the window.
And what you see is that it's raining.
And then a voice comes into the
head, a quick snap judgment that
says, Oh, what a dreadful day.
Now, is it true that the day is dreadful?
Of course not.
It just happens to be raining.
That's the reality of what's happening.
But if the mind comes in and says that
it's a dreadful day, and you believe it.
And guess what you're going to have?
You're going to have a dreadful day.
So in other words, a thought like
that, if you believe it, if you
buy into it, creates negativity.
So if you haven't recognized the
difference between a thought and just
a snap judgment and what reality is
when you buy into the thought and
you suffer, you play out the thought.
So too often, we let our thinking and
our beliefs about what we know prevent
us from seeing things as they really are.
We fill up our minds with preconceived
notions, biases, opinions, and judgments.
And when our minds are full like
that, we can no longer taking
any new wisdom or understanding.
When we think we already know
everything, we hamper our ability to
see clearly and to grow and to learn.
We can so easily view people, events
and the world around us through a
veil of preconceived snap judgements.
Maybe you have an opinion about
somebody for instance, and you put
them in a box, as the saying goes.
She's a hippie, he's arrogant,
she smart, he's weird.
But here's the thing, if we hold on to
those mental labels about people thinking
that we know someone, you know what
happens, you really never meet them again.
So if you pay attention to the thoughts
that dart into and out of your mind
all day, you might be surprised at
just how often you pass judgment about
things, events, people, and yourself.
What mindfulness involves is
becoming aware, becoming aware of
the mind's habit of judging and
unhooking from those thoughts.
In this way, we learn not to take
our thoughts so seriously, and to
see them as simply mental events.
And we discover through this process,
what I would call a liberating
insight that our thoughts, they're
just thoughts and not reality.
And with this insight, thoughts
lose their hold over us.
By responding non-judgmentally to the
events and experiences of our lives, we
cultivate the capacity to be non-reactive.
We're more able to stay grounded
in peace, wisdom, and presence,
no matter what life throws at us.
By observing things and people through
the lens of non-judgment, we see them
with fresh eyes, as the saying goes.
Rather than making assumptions
about them, it reconnects us
with our innermost selves.
And we begin to see really
clearly reality just as it is.
A rainy day isn't a dreadful day.
It's just a rainy day.
Reality is what's left when
all of your judgements and
assumptions have been laid aside.
So why do our minds do
all this judging anyway?
And why does it jump so quickly
to conclusions about what's
happening around us all the time?
Why does it resort to these snap
judgements and start attaching what are
often unhelpful stories to our experience?
Well, as with many other unhelpful things
that the mind inadvertently does, it's
only trying to keep you alive and safe.
Your mind is evolved to
protect and serve you.
So think about your mind
as a survival machine.
To keep you alive, your mind
takes in masses of sensory
data in any given moment.
And it has to filter all of that sensory
data to figure out what's most relevant.
To do this, the mind, the mind's filter,
if you can think of the mind is having
a filter, it filters all your sense
perceptions through two basic questions.
The two basic questions are, What
does it mean?, or what is it?
and, what do I do?
So your mind wants to understand
exactly what's happening in your
environment by asking what does it mean?
What is it?
Your mind wants to make anything
unknown, concrete and understood
as quickly as possible so that it
knows whether or not you're safe.
And then it wants you to react
as quickly as possible to what
you're seeing, feeling and hearing.
So when it asks, what do I do, it's
assessing whether you need to run, fight,
hide, or whether you're okay and safe.
When your mind is making meanings,
judgments, and stories about all the
things around you, what they mean and
what you should do, it needs to do this at
lightning speed, as quickly as possible.
So when it comes to making these
stories, these snap judgements,
it's important to know that speed
beats accuracy, every single time.
That's why the judgements are best
described as snap judgements because.
They are fast, but not
After all, a delayed response in the
hundreds of thousands of years that
have gone by, that could have meant the
difference between life and death for
some of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
If a Wolf was in the woods,
you need to act fast.
However, we don't know have
wolves on our tails these days.
It's not very likely.
In this world today, we're
often very, very safe.
Instead, what we tend to react to is, is
try imagining more like this scenario.
You're in a car park and you've
got your bags of groceries.
You're heading towards your car.
And as you step out into a laneway between
the cars, another car rushes past really,
really quickly, and it almost hits you.
It could have knocked you over, but you
were, even though you remain unscathed,
your body's flooded with adrenaline
and you nearly got hit by that car.
You're having a moment of slight distress.
So your mind takes a very quick snapshot
of what's going on, scrambling to make
meaning out of what's just happened in it.
It might just in a
millisecond notice two things.
The car that nearly hit
you is sleek and shiny.
It's a convertible.
And it also notices there's a woman.
You can see her reflection in the
review mirror of the car, and you
can see that she's got designer
sunglasses on and salon perfect hair.
Immediately the mind takes these
two bits of data and reacts
with the thought, rich bitch.
Now often when I tell this story in
my retreats, I'll use this example,
people laugh and I say, I know you're
laughing, but isn't this what minds do?
This snap judgment is quite typical
of how instinctive our minds are.
They just blurt out a snap judgment.
Now the trouble here is this.
If you believe that thought, that snap
judgment and allow it to truly influence
your thoughts and behavior, then maybe
if you believe that thought rich bitch,
you might, if she got out of the car, you
would treat her very, very differently.
And maybe if you see even other
people with designer sunglasses
or sleek, stylish cars, you might
feel animosity towards them.
And when this happens, when we
believe in a snap judgment like
that, we treat people differently.
We see reality differently.
We no longer see the human being behind
the sunglasses or the car they drive.
These snap judgements, have
the capacity to color our world
experience out, the way we view
the world and skew our perceptions.
But we can untangle ourselves through
the power of mindfulness and kindness, by
adopting what's called a beginner's mind.
A great way to unhook ourselves
from judgmental, these judgemental
tendencies of the human mind is
to cultivate this beginner's mind.
A beginner's mind is simply a
mind that suspends judgment.
A beginner's mind is open and receptive.
It's willing to experience everything
as if it was for the first time.
It doesn't condemn or assume
it already knows better.
The beginner's mind experiences, life
with a really open mind, free of any
expectations of what it should be.
This way of being reconnects us with a
fresh way of seeing and experiencing.
It unlocks our ability to be truly
present for the precious moments of
our lives and the people we love.
The next time you find yourself wanting
to judge what somebody is telling
you, and this is one of the places
where we can get really into judgment.
Instead of being judgmental or, you know,
letting that inner critic kind of come
to work, see if you can listen really
carefully when someone is talking to you.
And if you find something challenging,
if you find yourself judging,
you might like to say to yourself
mentally, Hmm, isn't this interesting.
This will open your mind to the
opportunity to learn something new or
hear something new, and you may surprise
yourself with the things you discover.
This is where your beginner's mind
could really begin to help you let go
of your snap, judgments about people,
places, and events in your life.
When you meet reality, moment, by
moment, you put aside your attachment
to these judgemental views and adopt
the openness of the beginner's mind.
Kindness is another aspect
of the beginner's mind.
In the beginner's mind, there's
an, a warmth and an openness to
experience, a befriending, you
could say, of life in each moment.
And this kindness, by the way, just
doesn't just apply to how we see others.
In fact, we often save the
harshest criticisms for ourselves.
That voice in the head, for many people,
often has plenty to say about how much
more we need to do in life to be enough.
It often berates us with
thoughts like you can't do this.
You're an idiot.
Who do you think you are?
It's quite willing to play these negative
criticisms to ourselves, in a misguided,
although well-intentioned effort, to
help us thrive and survive in life.
In mindfulness training, we learn
to adopt the kindness, the calm and
the openness of the beginner's mind
and observe these mental judgments
that cause suffering and stress.
We meet them with kindness and
understanding, knowing that the mind is
just doing what it was evolved to do.
And we untangled from them.
We let them go.
We realize they're not so serious.
In training in this way,
we become better and better
equipped to be kind to ourselves.
We become better and better then
also to offer genuine kindness,
friendship, and love to others.
If we can be less harsh, impatient,
and judgemental with ourselves,
we'll naturally be more kind,
patient and non-judgmental with
others and with life in general.
And we can become islands of sanity
and peace in a frantic world.
In this way, a non-judgmental mind
connects and transforms us all.
Now, like anything in life, cultivating
a kind and compassionate and calm
mind takes a little bit of practice.
And meditation is a really
great way to take the next steps
towards cultivating a kinder, more
compassionate, more authentic mind,
and a more wholehearted love of life.
After all, in the words of His
Holiness, the Dalai Lama, "What is love?
Love is the absence of judgment."
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