Hi everyone, Ash here
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Today we will be looking at pillar number 6 in the 7 Pillars of Mindfulness – Non-Judgement.
When I sat down to consider what non-judgement meant to me, I found that it was the easiest pillar for me to brainstorm ideas on. There are many angles I could have covered so I thought I would take it back to what the 7 pillars are about – mindfulness. In particular, mindfulness meditation.
My mindfulness meditation journey began in 2014 and it saved my mental health– a bold statement but 100% accurate. This was the year where my
mental health was at it’s lowest and I started experiencing feelings of ‘running away’, feelings that wouldn’t disappear and only seemed to intensify as the days and weeks went on. I would imagine being somewhere where nobody knew who I was, where nobody could contact me, and this frightened me as I was someone who thrived on my strong relationships with my Mum and best friends. I’d seen people in my family go through
depression, and witnessed my Mum suffer a mental breakdown in her 40’s, so I was terrified that it was possible I could go through the same thing – the signs were certainly pointing in that direction. It was suggested to me by a professional counsellor that I consider mindfulness meditation and my first response was nervous laughter! Until that point I was extremely sceptical of meditation (although maybe ignorant is more truthful!). I didn’t believe that something as simple as sitting quietly and focusing on your breath could possibly improve the way I was feeling…
How wrong I was.
How judgemental I was!
Today I am proud that I was able to move past my ignorance and trust the advice given to me that “One day, you’ll understand how it works and why
it’s invaluable for improving mental health”. I started my mindfulness journey by purchasing a book called ‘Mindfulness: A practical guide to
finding peace in a frantic world’ by Mark Williams. It explains all the benefits and the science behind mindfulness meditation, and then sets you
on an 8 week course that encourages you to meditate for around 10 minutes each day. It was during this time that I was really tested! I’m naturally a fidget, I have an overactive imagination and I would frequently claim that,”There aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done!”. How was I going to give up 10 minutes of my day to sit still and focus on my breath, with my eyes closed?! The thought of my mental health deteriorating to the extent that I had seen in some members of my family, and especially my incredible Mum, was reason enough…
Fast forward 5 years and mindfulness meditation is as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth, drinking water and going to sleep – I couldn’t be without it! In fact, since I downloaded the Calm app in 2016 I have meditated every single day (the app records it so I have the proof!) and
all the benefits that I was told about, I have experienced first-hand.
How have I made mindfulness meditation work for me? Non-judgement. I often hear people say that they tried to embrace meditation but gave up
because they couldn’t ‘switch off’ their mind or didn’t see/feel any benefits. Meditation will not give you immediate answers to solve your
problems, or help you feel calm and stress free at all times. What it does do is allow you to manage stress better, have times where you can relax your mind and give you opportunities of space to let those ‘a-ha’ moments pop up amongst the chaos of everyday living. I learned to be
non-judgemental with my practise, to understand that my mind was always going to do what minds are designed to do – think! It gave me space to
build strength in my character so that I could learn to judge my actions less. It was an opportunity to remind myself that I would never be perfect, that I had flaws like every human does and that it was important to accept these without judgement. In every single sitting (whether it be 10 minutes or an hour) I have times where my mind wanders, I fidget, lose count of the breaths or drift off as we complete a body scan… but I keep doing it and I offer non-judgement to my practise! Some meditations are better than others – just like days, weeks, years…
Through non-judgement I learned to power forward, to rest, to chase my dreams, to dare, to love. It helped me to quieten the negative voice in my
head that would look for the wrong in most situations. It taught me to respect myself, every decision and those around me. It helped me to be
present, right here, right now – not just today, but every day.
Are you able to put your judgement aside and give meditation your best shot? Stick with it and I promise you won’t look back.
Have a great day and if you have any questions on mindfulness meditation please reach out! Don’t forget to also share this email with anyone you
feel may benefit from reading it.
Sam and Ash
Content is from Sam and Ash at SMASH London. To find out more about them visit their site: www.smashlondon.co.uk