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Judgement (October 9, 2022)

There have been several things on my mind lately that I have wanted to share with you all, but I was having trouble deciding on which one for this weekend and on how best to share it. Among the things I've been trying to process are fatphobia/weight bias, judgement of the self and others, and how I use language in educational settings, be it in my language classrooms or in the studio. So, you know, just a little light reflection ;)

The truth is that I am always thinking and that all of the above are things I consider quite often. All of these areas are ones that affect society on a larger level, but most of my thoughts are self-reflective. What am I doing in these areas? Am I practicing what I preach? Are there little things I could change right now to make the lives of those who learn from me better? I will continue to share thoughts on these, and many other challenging concepts as I feel ready to do so. For now, I will simply share something that I started working on years ago.

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time sitting in judgement of others. I still have strong opinions about serious things, and I don't intend to change that. But, I'm talking about things like judging what strangers are wearing. I would people watch with the intent (though perhaps not conscious intent) to judge their outfits, their hair, their voices, all sorts of other superficial things. And I know I wasn't alone. Our society kind of trains us to do that. And for an insecure teenager and young adult, it was certainly a way to make myself feel better. After I started practicing yoga, I started to consider the act of simple observation without judgement. If you have taken a class with me, you have definitely heard me talk about observing your body without judgement. I practice that off the mat all the time, both as it relates to myself and to others. Does it really matter what another person is wearing? Does it truly affect you in any way what they decided to do with their hair? Of course not. We all know that. But it is a practice to fully internalize that and to stop using judgement of others to make yourself more secure.

The point of this story that I really want to make is that practicing this detachment and non-judging observation works! I have reached the point where I observe others, I notice them, I even give compliments when I can (I'm a sucker for a really cool dress). What I do not do is judge them. I will often think to myself, "well, that's not for me, but who cares?" And, more amazingly (to me at least) is that I now have a physical reaction to when I slip into judgement. I am completely serious when I say that if I find myself passing judgement on someone else's appearance I feel uncomfortable. I do not really have a better way to say it: I feel icky. My body quickly reminds me of what I am doing and how unproductive it is. I promise, this did not happen overnight. It has been years and years of work, and the work continues still. But, it has been a practice that has been invaluable in my life.

My challenge to you this week is to simply notice how often you are placing judgement on people for things that affect you in absolutely no way. This is actually a double challenge, because I encourage you to both notice if/when you do that, but also to not judge or criticize yourself for placing judgement. I also encourage you to reach out to me or to others if you find this practice challenging. If possible, try to come to the mat for an asana practice this week, as a way to touch base with this challenge and to be with others on the same journey as you.

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