Tag Archive | Non-Judgment

On dealing with involuntary thoughts

Don’t believe everything you think.


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Our involuntary thoughts [<link; short read] constantly come and go, outside our control. Some are resourceful, others are not.

The involuntary thoughts we believe become our reality.

How can I stop believing the thoughts that don’t serve me?

Detach yourself from your involuntary thoughts. Notice them without judgment (Non-Judgmental Self-Awareness), in the same way you might watch the clouds in the sky. I call this practice, thought gazing.

Think of your involuntary thoughts as suggestions. 

Never take the first suggestion. Always consider multiple alternatives.

Let go of those that don’t serve you. Even better, play with them. Use them as creativity fuel, in the same way an improviser might use suggestions from the audience to craft a magical experience.

Non-Judgment

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you mean by judgment?”

“Judgment is a kind of evaluation.

Reality is neutral. We view reality through a filter of meaning. Whenever we evaluate something as positive or negative, we project meaning on it.

Evaluation is interpretation.

Viewed in pragmatic terms, some interpretations are empowering, others disempowering. I call disempowering interpretations, judgment.”

“What is non-judgment?”

“Non-judgment is a practice.

It’s a self-awareness practicenoticing when you judge yourself and others. I call the process of directing attention to notice judgment, the lens of judgment. For me, using this lens was a revelation. I hadn’t realized how often I did it.

It’s also a self-love practice – lovingly breaking the unresourceful thought pattern by gently letting it go.”

Non-Doing

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Non-Doing?”

“I use it with a double meaning.

Non-Doing is Effortless Action.

The conscious and the unconscious mind complement one another. They form one process. The conscious mind has querying power; the unconscious mind has processing power. 

The more harmoniously the conscious and the unconscious mind work together, the better your outcome. If the conscious mind overextends, trying to overcontrol the process, it interferes with the unconscious mind, which produces an imbalance.

When you perform a precision jump in Parkour for instance, the role of the conscious mind is to set the intention, form a clear desired outcome, then get out of the way. The more conscious effort you put in, the less effective you are. Doing, in this case, is non-doing – letting happen. This requires trust.

What we call confidence is essentially a deep trust in your unconscious mind.

Non-Doing is Absence of Action.

Emotions come and go, outside our control. What we control is how we respond to them. 

Unpleasant emotions hold the key to inner peace. 

When unpleasant emotions occur, the default tendency is to resist them. We feel the impulse to do something about them – anything – to make them go away. This however has the opposite effect. The more effort we put into resisting them, the more we amplify them – and the more we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn from them.

What makes those emotions unpleasant are unpleasant body sensations (a big idea I know from Joan Rosenberg’s book 90 Seconds to a Life You Love). That’s what we want to get away from. The implications of this idea are profound. Most of our failings are the result of our incapacity to fully experience emotional body sensations.

What you resist persists. Non-doing, in this case, is non-resistance [<link; medium read]: lovingly, non-judgmentally, and curiously observing the emotional sensations without doing anything about them – they inevitably go away. This builds trust.

What we call confidence is essentially a deep trust in your capacity to deal with any emotional outcome.”

Non Principles

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are non principles?”

“Principles expressed with a specific structure:

Non-x

Non-Resistance [<link; medium read]
Non-Action

Non-Desire
Non-Judgment
Non-Expectancy
Non-Attachment (Detachment)
Non-Assumption
Non-Anticipation

Non-Thinking
Non-Doing

They are essentially attention-directing tools [<link; medium read].”

“Can you give a few details on each?”

“Sure.

Non-Resistance is how I called the principle behind a powerful idea:

Suffering = Pain x Resistance (Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion)

The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering. (Ram Dass)

Our resistance to pain amplifies pain. 

You can think of it as Action/Reaction. Our attempt to get rid of the pain – the Action – produces a proportional Reaction – more pain. The more we struggle, the more stuck we get. Counterintuitively, the way out of this conundrum is Non-Action

Non-Desire is the principle behind another powerful idea:

Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want. (Naval Ravikant)

Desires, expectations, judgment, attachments, assumptions, anticipation… all these bring about imbalance. The practice is to be mindful (and selective) of them, and to gently let them go. This is what their ‘non’ counterparts encode.

Non-Thinking is the practice of disengaging the conscious mind. Another name for it is No Mind. This is what happens when you’re in Flow.

Non-Doing is a counter to our compulsive tendency to do, and a gentle reminder to simply be.”

The Essence of Meditation

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the essence of meditation?”

“Haven’t we gone through this already?”

“We’re going to keep going through this until I manage to implement it.”

“There’s five aspects to it:

Intention-Setting

Focus-Point

Meta-Awareness
Response
Return

Intention-Setting is essentially Priming. This is how you initiate the practice. You can set the intention ahead of time (eg I’m going to meditate immediately after I wake up), or in the moment (eg I’m going to perform this action as meditation).

Focus-Point refers to choosing one point of focus and trying to maintain your attention on it. I say ‘trying’ because your attention will INEVITABLY wander.

The last three combined form the core of the practice. Thinking in terms of rep(etition)s, like in physical training, combined they constitute one quality-rep – or beautiful-rep, as I like to call it.

Meta-Awareness refers to noticing that your attention has wandered.

Response refers to managing your reaction to it. The keys here are Non-Judgmental Acceptance, and Loving Kindness.

Return refers to gently bringing your attention back to your focus-point.

A beautiful focus-point is the breath. But it can be the sensations in your body, an emotion, or anything else. You can choose any item in your environment and focus on it.

These are the purely technical aspects of the practice. Consistently perform quality-reps of it and you can get great benefits. However you can upgrade [<link; short] it by turning it into a spiritual practice.”

“How?”

Make every single meditation a Loving Meditation.

You’re thus imbuing the practice with Meaning.

Love is a meta-practice.

Using the macro/micro model, we might think of Love as the macro focus-point, and of your chosen point of focus as the micro focus-point.

Or, using the foreground/background model, we might think of Love as the background, and of your chosen point of focus as the foreground.”