Practicing mindfulness can really help you recognize the judge that dwells inside all of us -that part of us that fairly automatically labels all experience as good or bad, better than or less than. You can think of this judge as part of our safety system. We look at people and situations, and decide if they are like us or unlike us. If they are unlike us should we be cautious? There is nothing wrong with distinguishing between “good for me” and “not good for me,” ” safe and unsafe.” We begin to have problems, however if the voice of the judge begins to become too critical and inflexible.
What does being “open and joyful” even mean? This can be a foreign concept if we have spent a long time leading with the judge.
When this happens, we tend to block out people and experiences that might add to our quality of life. We may become isolated as we separate ourselves from people and experiences, maybe even feeling that we are too different or too special to engage. Worse still is when the judge turns inward. We might fall into the habit of comparing ourselves to others. Constantly looking at how we measure up. This bad habit of the mind can put us in a place of lack, feeling “less than” or not being or having enough. Over time this becomes an automatic process that can really affect our mood without us being conscious of the process.
This is why it is important to get to know the judge. Taking time in mindfulness to watch these patterns can help us first become aware of the emotions that come up when the judge is in control. What does it feel like when the judge is in the driver’s seat? Does it cause constriction in the body, anxious thoughts, a sense of being alone?
Once we have identified this pattern can we try coming from a place of joy? What does if feel like to stay open to experience? What does being “open and joyful” even mean? This can be a foreign concept if we have spent a long time leading with the judge. Openness and joy will feel a little different to everyone. For some it might be a feeling of relaxation and ease, for others, there may be an ability to trust in others, and in the flow of life. Others may feel a sense of loss over all the time spent judging self and others. Through mindfulness we can give the judge some time off here and there, and let ourselves experience this openness. This can lead to moments of real joy, of feeling safe, can cultivate an overall sense of well-being, and acceptance of ourselves and others.
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