In my writings and videos I often write and speak about mindfulness. In talking about mindfulness I emphasize the present moment, yet I am aware of how our past and our future work together. The definition of mindfulness instructs us to live in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.
“Nonjudgmentally” means we need not put a value judgment on the present moment. We are simply to experience the moment. The minute that we think this is a good moment or a bad moment, we have judged the moment.
The issue with placing judgement on our present moment means we lose a bit of the experience because in our judging, we’ve already made a determination within ourselves as to what we feel is happening. Our judgement may not be true to the experience. We may not be feeling or experiencing the moment the way that we think we are, so if we spend some time feeling what we feel before we label it as good, bad or otherwise, we might come up with a different experience.
For example, let’s say that you’re not a fan of baseball. I mention baseball as I personally do not enjoy this sport. I enjoy sports, but baseball I just don’t understand. I don’t understand how people can sit around and watch a player hit a ball, run to a base, and then stand around for some time.
Part of this judgment for me comes from my childhood. When I was really young, I played Little League baseball. I had my mitt, went to practices and enjoyed the experience. As a young kid I wasn’t complaining about being outside hitting a ball and running around. I played right field. From what I know of Major League Baseball, if you’re placed in the outfield, especially center field, you’re playing an important position!
But when you’re 5 and 6 years old, outfield is not the place you want to be. When you think about kids that age, even the best kid that we played against, the hardest hit they would have might get the ball over second base if they were lucky. My time in the outfield was therefore spent staring at the clouds, staring at the grass, or picking the dandelions. That was my baseball experience. So when somebody talks about baseball, or asks me to go to a baseball game, part of me, unconsciously, goes back to my childhood moment in Little League and so I think to myself, “You know what? That’s boring.” When someone invites me to a baseball game, and I actually go, I am going with my preconceived notions.
So where does the term “nonjudgmentally” fit in this example? If I were to go to that baseball game and consciously reflect on my experience — watching everything that’s going on, paying attention to the stats, who’s hitting, who’s catching, who’s in what position, what does this hit mean, what do these these signals from the coaching staff and the catcher mean — if I spent time focused on my current experience, not my experience from childhood, I might like the game.
It’s important for us to be aware of our judgments while we focus on the present moment. I think that’s where we end up finding our inner peace; in the letting go of our judgments in place of how we currently feel and currently live the moment. When we start to feel what we feel and take in the experience, then we learn about the life around us, and therefore we learn a bit about ourselves.
Through the process of sitting in meditation or consciously observing my daily life, that which I take in begins to influence my life. Over time we become more attuned to looking at and noticing the small things. The more that we get attuned to noticing the small things, what we’ll eventually begin to notice and encounter are the small, yet important, things within ourselves. That’s when we discover what in ourselves we need to change, so that when we make that change, we are doing so in such a way as to be mindful about it. We consciously make a thoughtful change.
To live mindfully takes daily practice, allowing for some failure along the way. A continued daily practice will eventually lead us to our inner peace. Inner peace is not far from our grasp. We have the ability to live in peace if we have the desire for peace.