Mindfulness – Beyond the Nonjudgmental Stance

Last week, we examined one of the key elements of Mindfulness – practicing the non-judgmental stance. Today, I’d like to extend that so that we can really expand on the benefits into our own everyday lives.

Our aim in training our mind to become Mindful is to be more aware, more often. A powerful influence taking us away from being “fully present” in each moment is our automatic tendency to judge our experience as being not quite right in some way—that it is not what should be happening, not good enough, or not what we expected or wanted. These judgments can lead to sequences of thoughts about blame, what needs to be changed, or how things could or should be different. Often, these thoughts will take us, quite automatically, down some fairly well-worn paths in our minds. In this way, we may lose awareness of the moment, and also the freedom to choose what, if any, action needs to be taken.

We can regain our freedom if, as a first step, we simply acknowledge the actuality of our situation, without immediately being hooked into automatic tendencies to judge, fix, or want things to be other than they are. The body scan exercise provides an opportunity to practice simply bringing an interested and friendly awareness to the way things are in each moment, without having to do anything to change things. There is no goal to be achieved other than to bring awareness to bear as the instructions suggest—specifically, achieving some special state of relaxation is not a goal of the exercise.

In a car, we can sometimes drive for miles “on automatic pilot,” without really being aware of what we are doing. In the same way, we may not be really “present,” moment-by-moment, for much of our lives: We can often be “miles away” without know- ing it.

On automatic pilot, we are more likely to have our “buttons pressed”: Events around us and thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the mind (of which we may be only dimly aware) can trigger old habits of thinking that are often unhelpful and may lead to worsening mood.

By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we do not have to go into the same old “mental ruts” that may have caused problems in the past.

The aim of this program is to increase awareness so that we can respond to situ- ations with choice rather than react automatically. We do that by practicing to become more aware of where our attention is, and deliberately changing the focus of attention, over and over again.

To begin with, we use attention to different parts of the body as a focus to an- chor our awareness in the moment. We will also be training ourselves to put attention and awareness in different places at will. This is the aim of the following exercises.

Try one this week on two occasions and share with me your experiences:

+Try approaching your experience in each moment with the attitude: “OK, that’s just the way things are right now.” If you try to fight off unpleasant thoughts, feel- ings, or body sensations, the upsetting feelings will only distract you from doing anything else. Be aware, be nonstriving, be in the moment, accept things as they are. Just notice.

+Choose one routine activity in your daily life and make a deliberate effort to bring moment-to-moment awareness to that activity each time you do it. Possibilities include waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth, showering, drying your body, getting dressed, eating, driving, taking out the garbage, shopping, and so on. Simply zero in on knowing what you are doing as you are actually doing it.

NOTE:

I have been asked to extend a second slot for the Mindfulness Matters group where I explore this skill in DEPTH over 8 sessions!

Space is limited to ensure that everyone in the group feels heard and has a meaningful experience.

Learn more about the group HERE!

Register for a screening here: http://www.subscribepage.com/mindfulnessmattersgroup

I will be CLOSING the cart on registrations in just a few days so be sure to claim your seat before I do!

Don’t forget that I post tips, tricks, information, and even more resources on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages – along with a Mindful Monday mini-series on the “Beyond the Couch” podcast so that you have an overflowing supply of tools to get you feeling like your best self in the life you want to celebrate!

Share a comment and tell me how your experience with greater awareness went!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!

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Mindfulness – Practicing the Nonjudgmental Stance

One of the key elements of Mindfulness is practicing the non-judgmental stance.

Mindfulness refers to awareness of the present moment without judgment and the thing is… judgments are often difficultfor us to notice and sometimes even more difficult for us to shake.

One thing to keep in mind is that  judgments can be useful. They allowus to have quick descriptions by creating simple categories and they’re fast, shorthand ways of describing preferences and consequences. At timeswe do need to make judgments very quickly in order to act. For example, if we’re driving and someone is swerving into our lane, we have to make a quick judgment in that moment – so judgments sometimes can be useful.

There can be some problems with judgments too. They have a tendency to distract us from what’s actually happening so they might replace facts. In times when we’re judging, we stop observing or becoming aware and noticing what’s going on for us. They also tend to feed negative emotions like a guilt or shame.

Positive judgments can also be a little bit problematic because they can be fragile. Things we often think of as good can very quickly turn bad for us if they don’t meet our expectations. It can be helpful for us to learn to let go of judgments so that when they’re useful for us, we can draw upon them and when they’re not really serving us,  we can actually do something else.

Here are a couple of steps for letting go of judgments that I wanted to share with you. One, just get into the practice of noticing your judgments – keep a tally of them! you can use a journal with the tracking judgments sheet I am including for you. In my Mindfulness Matters group, we use judgment jar where we place a marble in the jar every time there is a judgment that’s shared. That way, we have an opportunity to just stop and notice what it was that brought on the judgment and whether it’s something that’s helpful for us or not and how we can replace it.

I’m including the judgment tracker journal sheet FREE for you to easily integrate into your day!

What you might notice as you start practicing noticing your judgments is that it feels like you’re doing a lot of judging.  Then you might judge the judging. As we’re becoming aware of it, we start noticing more and more. That doesn’t mean we’re doing it more – we’re just becoming more and more aware.

After we start noticing our judgments, we might want to ask ourselves “Is this judgment helping or hurting me?” If the answer is that it’s helping us, we notice ways that we can contribute to our lives and that judgment or that thought that we’re having actually impact us. As a result, we have the option of taking action. If it’s something that’s hurting us, we have some tools for what we can do to let go of that judgment. We might reevaluate and become aware of what it was that we were judging and then replace it with statements of preference. We can also replace judgments with statements of consequences or statements of fact, or things that we’re observing with each of our senses.

In doing this, we practice accepting what it is that we notice.This way, we can more easily allow the judgments to drift away with more and more practice. As you progress, you may notice that there’s more judging and you’re likely going to be tempted to judge that judging. Instead, allow yourself to just notice that and come back to awareness of what’s going on for you.

P.S. I explore this skill in DEPTH through my 8 session group in Mindfulness Matters!

Space is limited to ensure that everyone in the group feels heard and has a meaningful experience.

Register for a screening here: http://www.subscribepage.com/mindfulnessmattersgroup

I will be CLOSING the cart on registrations in just a few days so be sure to claim your seat!

Don’t forget that I post tips, tricks, information, and even more resources on my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages – along with a Mindful Monday mini-series on the “Beyond the Couch” podcast so that you have an overflowing supply of tools to get you feeling like your best self in the life you want to celebrate!

Share a comment and tell me how you quoted your inner critic and its judgments today!

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!

Do You Have an Inner Critic Berating You?

Give Yourself Permission to Show Up Fully In Your Life!

In my practice, I see many people in the office who struggle with depression and low self-esteem who also want to get “perfect” work evaluations and be liked by everyone.

They have the idea that keeping up the image of perfection on the outside will give them the validation and praise they need to feel good on the inside. But what happens is that this positive acknowledgement is being poured into a leaky cup.

And it’s never enough.

And the very concept of relying on outside sources to fuel inner confidence becomes dangerous because then any perceived criticism or rejection becomes one hundred times more harmful.

And then they start to feel like they’re falling apart.

You CAN quiet your inner critic!

One of the first tasks we work on in my Mindfulness groups is showing participants how to recognize their self-judgments and inner critic. I use concrete and creative techniques to teach members how to recognize these judgements as a story they’ve been telling themselves that’s untrue and unhelpful.

Then, we work on practical skills to challenge these judgements and rewrite the story as a more accurate and empowered one to create confidence and improve self-esteem so that they leave the office feeling better about themselves than when they walked through the door.

And they’ve let someone see behind the mask and help them, which is critical to the healing process.

How can you begin to notice and shift judgments to improve self-esteem?

There are three steps to helping improve your confidence by practicing a non-judgemental stance:

Notice self-judgments. Gently point out to yourself that statement like “I’m a failure” or “I’m an imposter” is a judgment and not a fact. Perhaps ask yourself: “Is that true or is it a judgment?” Just notice it and let it go. Don’t judge yourself for judging – this is a natural thing and you are learning how to change it.

Encourage yourself to track judgments. In my Mindfulness groups, we use a “judgment jar” and move a marble into the jar anytime we notice ourselves or each other using a judgment. Invite yourself and perhaps even your loved ones to count or track judgments to recognize how much they are coming up for you during the day. The very act of noticing is promoting Mindfulness and will automatically help you shift from judgemental to more aware and compassionate.

Restate your judgments in a factual way. When you evaluate people, emotions, or things as good or bad, restate them as facts when you repeat them back to yourself. For example, if you say “She looked so ridiculous at work today,” you might rephrase this as “She had a different style than I do.” Describe what you see without placing opinions or emotions in the observations.

Learning to take a look at ourselves and tune into our inner critic and learning how to be non-judgemental CAN be hard. And it takes time to learn how to be self-compassionate.

Start practicing today and begin to build up your non-judgemental and self-compassionate muscles because they are SO worth it… and you will believe that too! It is one of the reasons we begin this skill so early in our Mindfulness groups!

P.S. Groups are an amazing way to lean how to express oursevles and understand that we are not alone. The Mindfulness Matters Group will run on Tuesdays from 5:30pm t0 6:30pm beginning on July 11th and running through September 26th.

If this group looks like a good fit for you, contact me for more details.

Curious what I can offer you to help build the life you love? Get in touch!

Get access to more valuable content weekly here!