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By Nadia Marshall

I have a confession. I'm a little bit judgy. Okay, maybe a lot judgy.

But don't worry, I don't just keep my judgyness for things, situations or for others. I judge myself pretty harshly as well.

What do I mean by judgy? I mean observing a situation, object or person, judging it, having aversion to the behaviour/scene and then making some comment in your mind (or out loud) about how it is unpleasant/unacceptable and often, how it should be different.

I used to think judgement was okay because I was surrounded by judgy. My parents are judgy, my sister is judgy, my friends were judgy, my hubby was judgy, my parents-in-law are judgy, the TV is judgy... in my world, it has been the thing to do (we're all perfectionist Pitta-heads, afterall). In my world, judgy equates to intelligence.

But, it doesn't really feel okay anymore. Maybe something to do with living with a Zen master and hubby becoming a monk? Maybe listening to hours and hours of dharma talks? Whatever the reason, I am now much more aware of how this excessive 'sharp' quality of mind feels and it isn't great. It feels tight and stingy. It hurts my heart. It hurts my head.

Basically, being too judgy is synonymous with holding life too tightly. It causes constant contraction and stress in the body/mind.

But I don't think it means to. Doko teaches that all the seeds in our mind, positive or negative are just well-meaning adaptations. The seed of judgement is too....

For me, I think the main role of "Judgement" is to scope the scene, discern what the right thing to do might be and protect me from doing silly or thoughtless things. It really wants me (and everyone else) to 'get it right'. Unfortunately Judgement also likes to point out when others have 'got it wrong' or when things or situations aren't up to scratch... and it doesn't realise that everyone has a slightly different version of getting it right.

And... Judgement rarely travels alone... the seed of "Beat Yourself Up"... the seed of "Put Others Down to Feel Good About Yourself" ... and the seed of "Vigorous Aversion" to things/situations often come along for the ride. As you may have noticed, these aren't the most peaceful seed clusters in the mind...

So what is the antidote to being too judgy? It's a simple practice that Doko asked his Zen students to try out last year. Basically the practice was this:

1) wear a bracelet (one that is easy to take on and off)

2) whenever you say or think nasty or judgy things about others, change the bracelet to your other wrist

3) whenever you say or think nasty or judgy thoughts about yourself, change the bracelet to the other wrist

4) whenever you say or think nasty or judgy things about things or situations, change the bracelet to the other wrist.

The aim is to try and keep the bracelet on the same wrist for a whole day... and then a whole week... and then 21 days if you can. I don't think I ever made it past a day but it was still a brilliant thing to do. It was surprising bringing attention to how judgy I was and how so much conversation is infused with some sort of judgy bad-mouthing, no matter how subtle.

The world has a strong habit of being a pretty judgy place...

We took the practice on whole-heartedly and it was a beautiful, softening, opening experience. Basically it encouraged us to invite the seeds of "Awareness", "Slowing-Down" and "Mindfulness" into a judgemental moment so that it didn't get out of hand. After a few months, the seed of judgement really calmed down and this created space in each and every moment for other seeds to emerge... like "Appreciation", "Gratefulness" and even "Joy". Cool, huh?!

Somehow in the last 6 months the practice has fallen away and the habit of judgy mind is back. So, I'm going to give it another go. The bracelet is going back on today.

Would you like to join me?

Lots of love

Nadia x

The Antidote to Being Too Judgy

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