Tara Brach leads a guided meditation on letting go of judgment. Letting the senses be awake and simply relaxing, letting go of judgment with each breath.
Letting go of judgment is a concept that many of us who explore mindfulness understand cognitively but struggle to embody on a consistent basis. Our beliefs about a particular person, situation, or experience are strongly rooted in our personal biases and ideas about the world; they are beliefs that have been strengthened through years of conditioning. Though sometimes challenging, letting go of judgment becomes much easier when we explore it from a place of non-judgment and compassion. Tara Brach’s ‘Letting Go of Judgment’ meditation provides us with a deeper understanding about where our judgments stem from, offering a safe space from which we can explore our experiences of judgment.
Increasing our awareness of all the ways in which we judge ourselves and others is the first step to releasing judgment. The only way to practice this authentically is, not surprisingly, from a place of non-judgment. Feeling shame or guilt for our human tendency to judge the world around us does not help us to overcome this habit. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with us for judging, but it is still a worthwhile point of exploration if we wish to evolve further along our personal mindfulness journey.
When judgments arise in the mind, we can practice simple observation of this mental tendency, labeling it as ‘judgment’ without proceeding into storytelling about why the judgment is ‘right’. Whether we realize it or not, judgments are a way of declaring ourselves or another as being ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ If we can move past this notion of rightness and wrongdoing, we can sit more attentively to our direct experience that might indicate why this judgment is arising in the first place.
Once we’ve become more mindful of all the ways we judge ourselves and others, we can practice letting these ideas go. Through guided meditations on releasing judgment or through quiet meditation, we can start to slowly soften our firmly rooted ideas of what is right or wrong, good or bad. In Tara Brach’s ‘Letting Go of Judgment’ meditation, she invites us to consider what we might be forced to feel if we were to release our judgments. Beneath our judgments there is often some form of pain, whether strong or subtle, that feels somehow protected when it can hide behind the veil of judgment. Beginning to quietly tune into the truth beneath the judgment is a way of naturally beginning to let go of the inflexible ideas we hold onto so tightly.
We can also practice letting go of judgment by tuning into our senses – into our direct experience of the world around us. By connecting with the present moment through the breath or through any other bodily sensation that reminds of what is most real in this moment, we find ourselves better able to witness whatever is happening in the mind from a more neutral space. When we are deeply connected to the present moment, firm ideas and judgmental storytelling is unable to hang around for too long. Clarity arises.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]