The non-jugdemental part of being non-judgemental

It’s a weird situation. When you start to watch your thoughts, frequently there is a voice that goes something like “dang it – there’s a thought!” or “What am I supposed to be doing”. Frequently this takes the form of self-criticism “I’m no good at this” or “I’m not doing it right”. When this happens and someone reports they have having this kind of experience, my response is “that’s fabulous! You already have enough mindfulness to see the kind of thoughts you’re having and report on them”. And it’s true. I say the same thing to people who start a class by saying “I’m not very mindful”. I’ll say “You may have more than realize! You have enough to know that you could benefit from it and are motivated enough to get to a class, so that’s says a lot about not only your self-awareness, but you intention to do something to improve yourself”. This is often unexpected, and it’s fun for me to observe the different ways people respond to that. (An article for later – being mindful when someone says something nice to you).   When you have these inner critic thoughts – it’s just information. “Oh, I go again”. And bring yourself back to just simple awareness. As if you were watching the clouds in the sky. They are not good clouds or bad clouds, just clouds. In the end, you’ve raised your capacity for mindfulness a bit by exercising you mindful neurology and rehearsed how to observe thoughts and feelings, without stepping into those thoughts and feelings. They don’t become the centerpiece, just something passing by.   So being non-judgmental as you are mindful is really very important. It’s not a race – there’s no “first place” – but there is a prize.

Listening Beyond the Story

canstockphoto20656618When listening to someone, see if you can do something quite different than what people normally do. Take a step back (internally). Don’t focus on the “story” so much but rather – pay close attention to the person speaking. Hear and respond to who is speaking, how they are presenting themselves, the language, the feeling you have from being in their presence and ask yourself “what are they really saying to me that is beyond the words”. Look past the words and immediate “issues” into the heart of the bigger picture. In the movie Avatar, the Navi had a saying “I see you” to meant to convey that they say the whole being, or essential nature of person, and not just the topic of immediate concern. Who is this speaking to me? What kind of life have they had? What kind of childhood did they have? How has life wounded them? What do they “light up” about? What are they passionate about? Who are their ancestors? All of these things and more are fully present in an moment if you just look and are open to it.

Of course, you cannot see very much if you are not present with your experience. If you are judgmental or have some personal agenda and are mindful, you will notice that this is going on for you. That’s actually very good. Just notice it. “Ah, I really want this person to like me”. Or “I really have an reaction to the language they use”. That’s excellent mindfulness. Just notice that but your attention on them. Looking at them as person that is standing in front of you know that has years and years of experience and history and untold stories you could never find the end of. Are they happy? Are they hopeful? Are they bitter, angry, caring, loving? Who the heck is this person ?

When you’re really with someone like this, a sense of spaciousness is present. You don’t feel pressed to do anything in particular making it easier to explore this space without pressure. There is a sense of bearing witness, and simply being in a state of loving presence with another person. There is no sense that you are to solve a problem, or change someone. A natural curiosity usually arises that is much deeper than “what happened next”. Instead it is more along the lines of a simple, natural, emergent, caring and authentic curiosity. Who is this person? How deep does it go? And often, there is an appreciation and caring for something you noticed. After all, we all share the human experience and that is a great deal indeed.

When you engage people in this way, it changes everything. The conversation is entirely different as you don’t need to shine the light on yourself or say “that’s reminds of the time I …..”. Instead, you are more than happy to let someone talk and have the spotlight if they need it. All the while, looking for the deeper parts of their message. You may notice how passionate they are when talk about their work or their relationships. How much it means to them to get something right, or work something out. Rather than problem solve you can just say “you seem to care a lot about getting it right”. And wow. When someone is seen like that and contacted so authentically, and non-judgmentally, the entire situation can be elevated. The relationship changes. Both of you can let down and bit, becoming less defended. And now you have intentionally created the conditions necessary for greater intimacy and connection.

So in your practice. Try this, when talking to someone you care about or would like to know better, when you have a mindful moment, ask yourself “who is this person, really? What’s it like to be them”  and listen deeply for the messages they are sending about their world. Listen closely to the whole person. They are speaking to you loud and clear in their body language, use of words, content, accent, pacing, age, race, gender, health, emotional state, beliefs, fears, concerns, passions – all of this and more are telling you so much more than the words spoken.

Doing this you have created the opportunity for grace and loving presence to enter into your moment. (More accurately, you have chosen to be present to the grace and loving presence that is already there). What a tremendous gift to yourself and the world.


In a recent class, student had the most beautiful insight I’d like to share with you. In the exercise, listeners were asked to practice listening beyond the story as described here. Afterward, he explained how he had felt all this cultural stuff come up in him listening to an older person that had the same ethnic heritage as his. And he discovered the speaker was not at all like his pre-conceptions. He summed it very nice with “to give up someone else’s story, I have to also give up mine”.


Just open the door…the rest will take care of itself

So many ways. Look into a child’s eyes. See the magnificance of the sky, Notice the subtle play of light on the city at dawn or dusk, stare into the night sky for 5 minutes, look at the perfection of a flower, let a dog make you happy, feel the water on your skin when take a shower, the first gulp of water when your thirsty, notice when someone lights up talking about their passion. Find one today and linger there.


Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – free, online class

canstockphoto5105545Here’s a free, online class in mindfulness based stressed reduction. Professionally produced, there is solid science behind these methods that show solid, tangible results in helping people have happier, more full lives. Includes instructions, guided sessions, and materials needed. Coursebook is optional.

Great Resource – Wisdom conference videos online for free

2015-08-27_23-51-26 Wisdom Summit conference last year in San Francisco was a very rich set of presentations, lectures, and experiences captured on video and made available to you here . You will find presenations from Eckhard Tolle, Jon Kabab-Zinn, Dan Siegel and others.
Very informative and useful details. Check it out!

Developing Intuition as a Personal Resource

18211722593_be95b65099_bIntuition is a controversial concept. Does it exist or is it just a generalized, vague sense based on some neural processes just below the level of conscious awareness? We process a lot of information and the vast majority of it is content we are not aware of. The bulk of neural activity is filtering out unwanted details so you can focus on what you deem important. Even though you are not aware of stuff that you’re not paying direct attention to, it is still influencing you. This is indisputable these days and radically changes notions of self-determination and “free will” on their heads. Professor Mary Peterson explained:


Mindful Magazine and Website

mindfulmagazineYou know a topic has made it when there is a slick magazine on your topic. Mindful magazine is a very well produced print magazine and website that has a lot of great content. It is actually too slick for my tastes, with new-york sense of style and design, but who cares! The content is really high quality for the most part. I particularly like the article on how mindfulness is part of the training for the Seahawks in the article/magazine featuring Pete Carrol.

The Most Important Thing in the World
The non-jugdemental part of being non-judgemental
Mindfulness as a SuperPower
Just open the door…the rest will take care of itself
Benefits of Mindfulness by Jon  Kabat-Zinn