Have you ever thought about the irony of judgement?
We tend to place judgement onto others, and ourselves, as a means of protecting ourselves from harm. In doing so, we create separation, anxiety, and an overall feeling that we are somehow not enough… Sounds a little counter intuitive, don’t you think?
Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for us to fall into the comparison trap in the beginning of our yogic journey, and ultimately succumb to the pull of self judgment that leads us in the opposite direction of our highest potential.
Comparative judgment usually sounds a little like this:
“I'm not as flexible as that person...”
“I can't do a handstand, so I must not be doing this yoga thing right.”
“I can't even touch my toes! I'm the worst yogi in the world!”
The next time you find yourself falling into self judgment, I'll invite you to remember Ahimsa, which translates to “non-violence” or “non-harming.” Ahimsa can be practiced on and off the mat, by making the conscious decision to connect to our truth and accept ourselves for exactly who, what, and where we are.
Not sure where to begin?
Here are three ways we can practice Ahimsa on and off the mat:
Number One: Lean Into the Breath
Our breath is the vehicle that moves our body from one point to the next. Connecting to a strong breath can not only support us during a physical asana practice, it can also serve as a guiding light for those moments when we can't seem to quiet the chatter in our minds long enough to allow our higher self to take the wheel.
The next time you feel judged or judgmental, give yourself permission to pause and take the deepest breath you've taken all day.
The toxicity of judgment cannot overtake a clear and steady mind.
Number Two: Recognize your Reflection
We humans are all walking mirrors. What we see in others is a direct reflection of something we carry within ourselves, whether it be something we admire or despise.
If you find yourself feeling envious of someone's capabilities, know that the only reason you noticed their strengths is because you hold a similar power within.
If you find yourself feeling judgmental of another – maybe they've said or done something to rub you the wrong way – take a look inward and ask yourself why you are so triggered by what this person is doing. Could it be because, deep down, you know you've said or done something similar?
Guilt, shame, and envy can be a heavy burden to bare, but when we realize that the other person is no different than us, the load becomes a whole lot lighter.
Number Three: Affirm your Worth
You may have heard this one before, but it's worth repeating: Comparison is the thief of joy.
How so, you ask?
Comparison demands that we believe in a reality that does not exist – one in which perfection is an attainable goal. In reality, perfection is just a figment of our imagination. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can free ourselves from our need to compare, judge, and inflict harm unto others and ourselves.
So, if perfection is unattainable, what then should we be striving to achieve?
We should strive to remember that where we are in this moment is exactly where we’re meant to be.
Yoga is so much more than a physical practice.
When we take that first step onto our mat, what we're really doing is sending a signal to the mind that we are ready to connect to our truth. Everything we learn on the mat has the power to reframe our perception of reality off the mat. Our only job is to observe the way we respond to every breath, every transition, every posture, and every passing thought.