In last week's entry, I referenced the advice given by mindfulness teacher Pema Chodron, to notice what you are feeling in your body without judgment, the chemicals in the bloodstream from the emotional trigger will fade within 90 seconds. What does it mean, to notice without judgement?
Recently, a few disappointing and upsetting things happened to me over a 4-day period. A project I had worked on for weeks I discovered could not be rolled out the night before it was scheduled to because of a technical setting in my work account I had no control over. On the same night I discovered that one of my pets, whom I'd had for 5 years, had passed away unexpectedly and for unknown reasons. A group I had been contracted to work with for an event went over the time they were supposed to leave by, leading to my getting home late and losing sleep. Another project I had been planning for months ran into a hiccup just as I publicly announced its rollout, generating interest from several people that I might not be able to fulfill any more.
One of the key practices in mindfulness is to observe things happening for what they are in the present, without judgment. When learning meditation, many people get frustrated and quit over the thoughts that inevitably arise while one is trying to keep a clear mind. As we are criticizing those thoughts, we are becoming attached, holding on with hooks sunk in deeper the more energy we give. The quality of benign attention is to watch something with no attachment to an outcome, no judgment. When we apply judgment, we are adding to the experience, changing it, and no longer simply acknowledging or being aware of it in its natural form. If it's a sensation, that sensation could get stronger, or weaker, or stay the same; either makes no difference, you merely sit and watch with an unhurried curiosity. If you become aware of yourself becoming attached or judging, just notice that for what it is as well, benignly. Reduce the energy you are giving to that thought in half, then cut it in half again, and again. Until you are not sure if you are giving it any energy any more. Do I still have thoughts about the troubling occurrences that happened, even though it's been a couple days? Yes, they do rise to the surface every so often. Am I thinking about them? No.
How am I directing my attention to the things that really matter, and cultivating the best soil for healthy plants to grow and bear fruit?