"Their faces showed neither approval or mockery. They were looking at me without any judgment in their eyes at all. There had been a heighted sense of reality in the room. It was like the opposite of being on drugs - too much clarity. It was interesting to think that when judgment fell away what you ended up with was clarity. I had always leaned on judgment to make sense of the world for me. But maybe it wasn't helping maybe it was muddying the waters rather than clearing them.” Poser by Claire Dederer
Tonight's theme is based on a personal experience I have recently been undergoing that many of you have been sharing alongside me in thoughtful concern. This theme is called Judgment. As you may know, about 40 some days ago we rescued a dog from a shelter. For forty days my life has been in turmoil. And on the rare days where I remained calm about the situation, someone else in my family would be having a tumultuous day. This chihuahua terrier was the cutest thing ever and he would make his way into your lap every time you sat down. I believe in a previous life he was a cat as I twice caught him standing on my kitchen table. The way my son worded it was that he loved 80% of the dog but the other 20% were brutal. Mathematically, this may not make sense, but that 20% FAR outweighed the good eighty.
At a year and a half, the dog was not house trained. After forty days, the dog was still not completely house trained. My attempts to take him outside every hour didn't seem to matter when nature beckoned. In fact, just yesterday, he lifted his leg on my hallway baseboard. He barked incessantly. He barked at people and dogs outside, he barked when he could merely hear people and dogs outside, he barked at the sound of school busses and trucks, he barked at the whistle my phone made when a text came in until I finally changed the ringtone. Maybe all understandable...but he also barked at nothing. And then he started barking through the night and I do mean through. He was aggressive towards other dogs and certain people. But for forty some days his sweetness with us outweighed this obstacle we felt we could overcome. You might be thinking by now (!), why would we endure this for so long? Here's where the judgment comes in. And I apologize in advance if you fall into this category of people I used to pre-judge and that is I have always held the opinion that people who adopt animals should not return them.
Now this is interesting.... Merriam Webster defines judgment as "an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought (which my opinion was not), the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought (which my opinion was not), the act of judging something or someone (which I was doing) and the ability to make good decisions about what should be done (which I wasn't capable of for forty some days due to my aforementioned judgment.)
I did not want to fall into THAT category; the category of people who couldn't seem to manage the responsibility of a life they had spoken for. Truly, I just didn't realize how many and how deep the issues could be.
Now, I can appreciate that this may not be a very interesting story but here's the lesson and what it has to do with your yoga practice. While you all were asking me how the dog was doing and offering fabulous suggestions, it finally dawned on me that you weren't judging me. I was the only one taking care of that. No one gave me a look of judgment, no one uttered words of judgment. But I did. In my head every minute of every day and I alone was responsible for creating my suffering. Well, the dog helped me out but to him, once he finished peeing on my grandmother's chair he was done and off to play with a toy. He forgot about it. I did not. I carried it with me like the monk who carries a woman across a large puddle so she doesn't get wet. And the other monk with him says after much time has passed, we aren't allowed to touch a woman but you did back there. And the first monk says, I carried her across a puddle but then I set her down. You are still carrying her. I am that second monk.
One of my restorative students came to my vinyasa class this week never having tried a vinyasa class; so awesome! I think of this because this person's frustration on the mat at struggling to keep up was all a part of that person's own self judgment. There was no judgment coming from me; I was too excited that they tried. And there wasn't judgment from anyone else because they were all working to maintain their own practices. Hey, if you all want to come to a vinyasa and stay in child's pose the whole time I think that is up to you! It's your practice!!! Maybe you came to your mat with intentions of joining the practice but then realized you didn't feel so well. So you took child's pose and just embraced being in the atmosphere and energy of the amazing yogi's around you. I certainly wouldn't judge that nor should you.
So, my lesson for myself to share with all of you is stop the unnecessary judging, especially if you have directed it towards yourself. I did take the dog back today. If that was the wrong decision, my gut would have let me know, but I merely feel relief. My self-judgment was like a sheath that did not allow me to see clearly. In fact, yesterday I put in the wrong contacts and couldn't figure out until the evening why I had been struggling to see. Maybe that was an intentional move on the part of the Universe.
So, while I thank you all for not judging my situation, I want you to remember this. A typical yoga mat is typically about 24" by 72". Now picture yourself comfortably spread out on your mat ready to embrace svasana. There isn't a lot of room left over on the mat is there? So, don't share that precious space with self-judgment.