Non-judgement and Mindfulness

Non-judgement is a key principle of mindfulness and it can really effect how we see things, and therefore our experience.

As we begin to practice mindfulness we start to notice how quick the mind is to automatically label things in terms of good and bad, likes and dislikes of our experiences. It’s like the mind won’t let us just see something as it really is, it has to add something to our direct experience of it.

How would it be to adopt an attitude of curiosity, and a ‘not knowing’ if what happened is good or bad. We are usually quite quick to label something as good if it felt pleasant and bad if it felt uncomfortable. But is what feels pleasant always good?

I came across this story several years ago and it’s still my favourite story today. Let me share it with you…

A father owned a farm with his wife and son. They did not have many animals, but they did own a horse, which they had saved hard to buy. One day the horse ran away.

“How terrible, what bad luck”, said the neighbours.

The farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Some time later the horse returned from the hills, bringing with him a herd of wild mares.

“What marvellous luck”, said the neighbours.

“Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” replied the farmer.

The son began to tame one of the wild horses, but one day he was thrown off and broke his leg.

“What bad luck,” said the neighbours.

“Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” replied the farmer.

The next week the army came to the village to take all the young able-bodied men to war. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they let him off. Now was that good luck or bad luck?

Who knows?

Do you find yourself asking how does the story end?

This story is very much like the events of our lives. We don’t know how it ends. And also, if we find ourselves judging, maybe we don’t know enough to judge? I say that because judging can come when we don’t or can’t understand something.

So if we raise our level of interest and curiosity, that can help us lower the judging.

A lot of unwanted suffering comes from our reaction and relationship to our experience. Can we try asking; how do I know if this is good or bad?

Are you grateful that some things didn’t work out the way you once wanted them to?

And even if we are convinced that something is bad, how helpful is it to view it in that way? Does viewing it as bad add or relieve suffering? How does it feel to just experience the rawness of it?

Practice letting go of judgement. Do we know enough to judge? What views are we holding onto?

What if whatever we felt, whatever we experienced is just as it should be?

When we notice our judging mind it can be helpful to try and suspend judgement and assume more of a ‘not knowing what’s best for me’ attitude. Don’t try and stop the mind judging or try to challenge it. Just observing it is enough. And don’t judge the judging!