The second part of this series is centered around the practice of non-judgment and, quite candidly, the importance of not giving a s*** about what others might think or say about you. These two practices allow for INSTANT inner-peace, and who doesn’t want to experience INSTANT inner-peace?
As far as the picture utilized in this post, well, I met this beautiful soul at Midway Airport in Chicago. As I sat down next to her, she leaned over from her wheelchair and said to me “You know, you’re the only one in this airport who sits on the ground, cross-legged and writes in a journal. You MUST be from California.” This woman went by the name of Jeanne and Jeanne and I had one of the deepest conversations I have shared with somebody in quite a while. Her primary message to me was that we only get ONE chance at this life. There is quite literally, no time to waste. She emphasized the need to do what makes us happy, to do this as often as possible, and (her words) to “stop giving a s*** about what others might think or say about us.” Caring about what others might think or say only hinders our own progression on this fruitful journey. I am forever grateful to have met this 90 years young, kind, compassionate soul. She is the inspiration for the following.
The act of non-judgement came up quite a bit during my travels. Oftentimes, I would find myself journaling or meditating in some pretty oddball places. Some of these places included: the floor of airports (including Cleveland, Dallas, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Chicago and Puerto Vallarta); on the asphalt outside of Cleveland Yoga; on the bench outside of the La Quinta Inn in Harrisburg Pennsylvania; on multiple airplanes in route to various locations; at various restaurants in 5+ states and 2 countries, and numerous other beautiful locations. Mind you, these are some pretty public places inhabited by individuals who have many different personalities, all with varying backgrounds, priorities, ideologies, ethical values, standards and outlooks on life. I will be honest, there were times when I would look around, wondering what people were saying or thinking about this weird dude, sitting cross-legged at Gate B8, journaling or meditating for extended periods of time as he waited for his Mexico-bound plane to board. As a society, we all experience these insecurities at one time or another. Perhaps we choose not to dance with our friends at the party, deathly frightened about what others might think of our atrocious dance moves (I am a horrible dancer). Or maybe, a stranger in the car next to us catches us singing our hearts out to that new Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber jam and once caught, we instantaneously terminate the private talent show, our face turns bright red, our mouths get dry, and we start to sweat from the embarrassment of what that driver must think of our audacious performance.
Now pause, and answer me this: long-term, does it really matter what strangers might think or say about us? No, not in the slightest. A week from now, it won’t matter that some stranger caught you giving a full-on performance to Justin Bieber’s “Baby” in the driver’s seat of your Ford Escape. It was over the course of these 6 weeks that I learned that worrying about what others might think or say, more specifically, what strangers might think or say about me holds 0 value, serves no purpose in my life, and only hinders my own progression on this fruitful journey.
I think that as we move through life, we give too much of our power up to other individuals (strangers as well as those we know) who quite frankly, don’t deserve it! Think about it, how many times in your life did you change course, hot route, or modify a specific behavior or action simply because you were worried about what somebody else might think or feel about that behavior/action? Let me guess, TONS of times! Don’t worry, we all have, and that is completely normal! Part of this stems from our inherent self-centeredness. Anxiously worrying about what others might think about us or overanalyzing a certain situation is ingrained into our DNA! This is how we evolved, how we survived a long, long time ago. But this tactic no longer serves us! Unfortunately, this learned “skill” of assessing each and every situation, ensuring our survival at the deepest level no longer provides value in the civilized society we live in! We must spend less time attempting to be accepted by absolute strangers and spend more time accepting ourselves!
So, now what? How do we retrain our brains to not be so judgmental? So self-centered? So egotistical? After all, it is the ego that places these judgments on things. I admit, this is one of my deepest rooted flaws, and I must practice the art of non-judgement on a daily basis in order to overcome this self-destructive characteristic. It all starts with being comfortable in our own skin and it ends with the non-judgement of others! Believing our mind’s judgments about what happens keeps us trapped in our own thinking mind, and often trapped in suffering. Allow me to explain further.
When I first started yoga, I was farrrrrr from perfect (still am). And what’s more, I felt like everybody in the room, at every class, was judging me (they weren’t). As I investigated those feelings, I came to yet another epiphany. And this one really blew my mind. The reason why I felt like I was getting so harshly judged was because, consciously or subconsciously, I was judging every single person in that room! Judging them based on my insecure thoughts that they were judging me! Judgement creates separation between ourselves and what we are judging. And, the crazy thing about this situation is that it quite literally started and ended in my head, and my head only! Here, I was thinking a thousand thoughts a minute, mind running a marathon, meanwhile, in the real world, back on earth, there was no external judgment, whatsoever! It quite literally started and ended in my head, and these feelings of being judged stemmed from my own feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.
Non-judgement can be applied to anything – people, situations, thoughts, things or feelings. When we practice non-judgment, it takes us deeper into the truth of reality. If we judge a situation as bad, we instantly feel bad. Conversely, if we fight the feeling to judge the moment and instead, allow it to be, a sense of spaciousness, aliveness, and peace arises, and we become free of the situation. Moreover, when we release the urge to gossip, critique, and judge others; ironically, our own feelings of insecurity also get released. And it is only then, that we can learn to pay no mind to what others might think or say about us. It is imperative not to measure ourselves by the standards of other people, but instead, measure our improvement today to that of yesterday, seeking out constant growth, constant progression. And let me tell you, when you can reach that level of freedom, that level of power, that level of sovereignty: it is an inexpressible feeling! Something words cannot describe, and something I am determined to help each and every one of you experience!
If you remember one thing from this post, let it be this: Life is short. You cannot please everybody, you’re not an avocado. Therefore, dance in front of strangers, sing in the car, laugh uncontrollably, order that delicious desert, journal at the airport, speak YOUR truth! We only get ONE CHANCE at this life!!! Live YOUR best life. Do it for YOU!
Have a FANTASTIC weekend!