Written by Jeff Lester, a student and teacher of yoga and any practice that expands the human consciousness
I remember as if it were just moments ago, even though it was many years ago, now, and an experience that shaped my entire life going forward.
I was moving through my yoga flow in a packed studio, the teaching rhythmic and fluid, and the energy of the room was brilliant. I had been practicing at this studio nearly every day for more than a month, yoga practice had become an obsession. As the class went on something in me changed. A realization dawned, something I had been aware of, but not yet fully conscious, revealed itself.
As I reflect on this experience I must stress that it was a moment in time that changed my perception of life, a transformation. To this day, that realization continues to contribute to my life.
It was during this class I that I first noticed the judgements and comparisons moving through my mind, well, MORE than noticed. I FELT the energy of my judgments and comparisons. I noticed the frequency of thoughts that were moving through my mind… Right, wrong, good, bad, beautiful, ugly, sloppy, perfect etc… and then the thought - “Wow! I am so judgmental!” And finally the awareness that shifted my whole perception “I’ve just judged myself for being judgmental” leading to an internal revolution as I fully witnessed the madness of the ego structures that perpetuate judgment ad infinitum. A jolt of laughter burst forth, or was it a maniacal giggle? Either way, it was the kind of laugh that let me know everything is alright - I’ve seen through the madness, and I am here to stay.
Oh, and yeah, that all happened in a matter of seconds. For me, this is transformation by definition. As I reflect on this experience, I can still feel the giddiness that welled up inside of me for the rest of that practice.
Are you willing to face your madness and laugh?
What in the world are we going to do with all this judgment?
Let us unpack.
One hallmark of an effective spiritual practice is to facilitate the conscious awareness of one’s shadow aspects.
Or, to bring darkness into the light.
Over my years of consistent practice, I’ve enjoyed many experiences like the one I described above, an unravelling that does the soul good. As a teacher and coach I’ve supported others in similar transformational moments - “when the earth goes from flat to round” AH HAAA! And life is never the same again.. those kinds of moments.
There is a common thread here, you might have noticed - breakthroughs often happen with consistent practice, over time.
The reason practices like yoga and meditation work so well (when practiced consistently) is because they move our attention from being primarily outwardly oriented to inward.
This shift in our attention brings to life a whole universe of new experiences and possibilities.
Our attention is everything - When we give our attention to something, it shapes our experience of life, and in turn, our perception also shapes the world we experience. There’s either two or three things in operation at this moment. Our attention, our perception AND potentially, the awareness of the experience in the moment.
Try this, go outside and take a few moments to look closely at a tree, or the ground. Allow your focus to rest on one spot. What do you notice?
Ok so… did you do it? Come on!
Well, hopefully you get the experience, that being, what you put your attention towards expands and flourishes. If you look at the ground you might notice different textures, then, with time, more things become present.. different colors, insects, shapes and so on. This is an example of what happens when we put our attention towards a thing with awareness.
Our spiritual practices like yoga and meditation help us do the same thing, except our attention goes inward, and what do we see?
Well if you are lucky like me, you will eventually observe the madness of the inner critic, that part of you that judges everything and anything, even itself. If you become consciously aware of this, I promise you will laugh like I did.
So, what happens next? Does the judgment go away?
Let’s say you JUST became aware of all this judgment going on and you’re how many years old!? - recognize that this has been going on in the background (The shadow aspect of yourself) for most of your life. It’s not going away overnight. The great news is that with awareness you’ve turned the tide in this great internal battle that you have just become aware of.
It’s like you wake up from a dream one day and you are staring at a battlefield and a soldier runs up to you and says good news General, we’ve just broken through the enemy lines! And you’re like wait what!? Where am I ?
Welcome to the battle for your conscious awareness - your greatest possibility in life. Your authenticity.
Allow me to offer you, one General to another, a very useful strategy.
Keep practicing and keep noticing.
There is a true madness to the perpetual judgement that we have become so good at in our material and superficial (outwardly oriented) society. When fully recognized - with the light of awareness - there is a tremendous opportunity for Grace.
What is the antithesis to judgement?
In my experience of becoming aware of judgement - I felt in my body the heaviness and constriction of those thoughts, which is why when I became aware (darkness into light) I laughed and felt WAY lighter after.
What really stuck with me is that I am now aware of how it feels in my body when my mind (attention) is moving towards judgement.
Through consistent practice I’ve become very sensitive to when the judgement is shaping my perception. So to go back to the question “What is the antithesis to judgement?” - instead of getting even more analytical and heady about it, what FEELS the opposite of judgmental??
You must have noticed, how it feels to be curious?
The childlike wonder and openness to anything and every possibility is EXACTLY the antidote to judgement.
Where judgement is RIGID and TIGHT and CONSTRICTING,
Curious is OPEN, MOVING, LIGHT, PLAYFUL.
This, my friend, becomes the new practice: every time you notice judgement, move it into curiosity. Ask a question, ponder, wonder, be open to the possibilities and allowing of the experience.
So, KEEP practicing - get on your yoga mat, meditate, as consistently as possible. Start where you are and develop your awareness. The fruits of your practice are priceless.
Thank you for reading!
Jeff is a student and teacher of yoga and any practice that expands the human consciousness.
Originally from Atlanta Ga, USA, Jeff has explored the world studying and training extensively in practices ranging from yoga and meditation to shamanic ceremonial traditions. He has assimilated a catalogue of impactful life tools that bring people together with high vibes and deep connection to life.
Jeff facilitates workshops and trainings that inspire, empower and connect students to their inner journey and personal transformation. His brand, Jefe Living, creates community around meditation and coaching to support individuals in their journey and transformational process.
Follow Jeff on Instagram and Facebook Jefe Living @jefe_af