“If you are happy, pleasant and unselfish in your behavior toward others, obstacles will shrink. If you are miserly with your emotions and judgmental in your mind, obstacles will grow.” – Patanjali, Yoga Sutras (as translated by B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Life.)
I’ve been trying not to be judgmental.
Non-judgment, of other people and of yourself, was one of the themes of the yoga training I did a few months ago in Costa Rica. There were very few rules or guidelines during the training – it was all about discovering the yoga practice that works best for you and becoming more “self-awakened.” Early on, the teachers asked us to agree to a couple of ground rules though.
The first rule was “no gossiping.” This might sound unnecessary, or perhaps just futile, to request of a group of adults. But I found that as well as creating a feeling of safety and intimacy within the group, not gossiping was connected to the larger goal of non-judgment. Gossip involves so much judgment. When we talk about someone behind their back we are almost inevitably passing judgment on them, whether it is conscious or not and even if it is not particularly malicious.
What has been interesting and surprising to me is the connection between judging others and judging myself. I have found recently that the less I talk about and judge other people, the less I judge myself, too. I think this slackening of self-judgment and the liberation it might bring are the real rewards for not talking about other people.
Unfortunately one major casualty of my non-judgmental regime has been humor. I have realized that much of my laughter and my hilarious (to myself) inner-monologue carries a lot of judgment, too. I am finding this humor much harder to give up than gossiping and I’m not sure that I can stop making jokes out of the absurd, ironic and unexpected events and people (including myself…) in my life. Sorry, the things I have judged to be hilariously absurd, ironic or unexpected. I have for so long relied on this laughter to get me through days of work, school and traveling, I’m not sure I even want to let it go.
Any suggestions you have for finding some compromise between non-judgment and my filthy sense of humor would be appreciated.