“When your mind turns to judgment, instead turn to wonder.”
This was one of the guidelines for behavior at a retreat I attended years ago. It really grabbed my attention and caused me to reflect. My habit of judging others’ behaviors, choices and mistakes is deeply ingrained. I am always willing to blame rather than offer grace. This guideline offers a simple alternative.
The practice is very helpful when bringing groups of people together. I still use this guideline and several others when I’m leading retreats and team-building and training events. When I’m in stressed circumstances, asking someone a question rather than making a knee-jerk judgment of their behavior usually fosters the relationship more than closing off communication or blaming them for the problem.
Although I’ve been trying to use this practice (not always successfully) with people for years, it’s only been recently that I’ve applied it to my meditation practice. Like most people, I had trouble settling into a practice. My mind seemed more interested in making to-do lists, worrying over something in the past, or generating anxiety about the future than resting into bliss. Some of my early teachers helped by saying that this is just how the mind worked. The mind jumps around – that’s why centuries-old meditation and prayer practices use sound, visual objects or physical movement to help us stay focused.
More recently, my teacher and friend Marcia Miller suggested something new. If a thought or a physical sensation is getting your attention in meditation, go to it and explore it. This technique is the meditative version of the question from the retreat. Instead of judging yourself for not meditating well enough, simply invite the thought or sensation to guide you, to tell you what your mind and body need in that moment. Although you may not be meditating exactly the way you’re “supposed” to (unless you’re meditating with me or Marica), you are probably exploring something in your body-mind that needs healing. And that’s the real goal of meditation anyway — healing.
Having curiosity just might spark some hope that you didn’t have before. You might become hopeful that you can start a meditation practice. It might spark calm and openness the next time you’re faced with a challenging situation or even conflict in your waking life. You might just become curious enough to live the dream you’ve been holding back for years.
Are You Curious about Starting Meditation Practice? Your mind is not too busy; it just needs a little direction. That’s why I’ve created packages of audio and video downloads of simple, guided meditations that last only 5-10 minutes. Check out my packages, such as the good sleep kit, stress relief bundle and mindful meeting starters, on my awesome new online store. Or try my weekly online restorative yoga class. Your first class is free!