Take a moment to bring your attention into the present moment. You can use your breath as a grounding or focus point. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. Every time your attention wanders away, very gently come home to the feeling of your breath in your body. If you'd like, you can try to gently notice your breath in the background as you listen to my words. Your breath is always in the present moment and you can always bring your focus back to your inhalation and exhalation when your mind wanders.
Now we are going to spend the next several moments paying attention to thoughts. However, rather than involving ourselves in the content of our thoughts, we are going to sit back and observe thoughts that come into our mind.
First, imagine that you have two boxes or containers in your mind’s eye. You can design and create them any way you wish. Now, imagine that one is labeled “judgment thoughts” and the other box is labeled “facts.” Your task, for the next several moments, is to observe any thoughts that come through your mind and place them in either the box marked “facts” or the box marked “judgments.” To be clear, facts are everything you take in through your senses – eyes, ears, nose, skin, mouth. Anything you add to this is an opinion or judgment. If I have the thought, “that painting is framed and has blue and green colors,” I will place that in the “facts” box. If I have the thought, “that painting is ugly,” I will place that in the “judgments” box. See if you can not only observe your thoughts, but also place them in one of these two boxes. We will do this in silence for the next 30 seconds. Remember, take the observer stance, notice any thoughts that come through your mind, and place them either in the box labeled “judgments” or the box labeled “facts.” I’ll let you know when 30 seconds has passed…
Now, gently let go of the images of the boxes in your mind's eye. Bringing your attention back to your breath, notice that you are breathing, feeling your breath in your physical body. And now, reflecting on what you noticed during the 30 seconds of watching and categorizing your thoughts. Did you notice mostly judgments? Mostly facts? Did your mind go blank? Were you flooded with so many thoughts it was hard to catch them all? Did you notice not knowing whether your thoughts were facts or judgments and weren’t sure in which box to place them? Take a moment to reflect on what you noticed. See if you can do that without judgment (or, if you notice judgment, call it a judgment and return to the facts).
It doesn't matter what you noticed during this practice. Your practice is first, bringing your mind back when it wanders (that's mindfulness), and second, embodying a stance of curiosity and interest in place of judgment.
Practicing nonjudgment is just that: a practice. Nobody walks through their day without any judgmental thoughts, and we wouldn't want to. Judgments are useful. By practicing nonjudgment, we expand our capacity to notice when we are judging and then allow for ourselves to make a choice whether proceeding forward with that judgment is helpful or harmful. The key to nonjudgment is repeated, daily practice, practice, practice, and then more practice. If you are interested in building the muscle of Nonjudgment, set an intention for your practice now. Make it short enough that you can practice daily - 30 seconds of daily practice can be useful. How will you practice? Will you watch your thoughts as we just did, take some of my other suggestions I've written about, or come up with your own practice?