With my recent appreciation of non-judgemental awareness I’ve come to notice the small ways that it plays out in my life. This kind of awareness is a mindfulness of the present moment (which sometimes involves suffering) and observing it without making any judgements about it or analysing it. Here’s a simple example I witnessed in church recently:
Next to me in my pew was a little boy around the age of 6. He was going back and forth in the pew, lying down, picking up he hymnal, standing on the kneeler, and unintentionally bumping those in front of him with the book. Watching the boy’s behaviour caused me to feel a bit bothered and I imagined how I might feel if I were the guy being jabbed by the boy’s hymnal. My awareness was clearly not absent of judgement and analysis.
This is how I probably would react (start at 1:03):
But the moment the boy’s hymnal touched the guy’s shoulder, the guy just shifted over a few inches. No signs of rage or irritation or looking back. He simply moved away from the distraction and moved on. The guy did not dwell on the boy’s annoyance like many of us might. Many of us may think, “What kind of parents sit there and let their child irritate others?” But this person showed no signs of such a thought. Of course, I don’t know what he was actually thinking, but his outward signs showed an important characteristic of mindfulness: detachment. He did not cling to the irritation, which only would have caused him suffering. He moved in his seat so he wouldn’t be distracted by the boy, but there really was no resistance to the situation like Ellen exemplified in the video above.
Not reacting takes a consistent practice of non-judgemental awareness. It’s not even about justifying. “Oh, he’s just a kid.” It’s about letting the situation be as it is. And you move on.
Listen to an audio version of this post…
Music by Kevin MacLeod