A Breakthrough in Judgement

I have recently become more aware of my patterns of judgement, and how it impacts my listening.

Most of the time, I have filters on that prohibit me from listening from a pure, clean place. The filters cloud the way I listen and create expectations for every interaction. When I listen to my manager, I expect them to be a better leader than me. When I listen to my friends, I expect them to behave in a friendly way. My listening changes depending on the person and how I define them (or in other words, how I judge them).

Filters are not a new concept to me, but while practicing yoga, I became aware of the way I judge myself. When I practice, I listen to my body in a very specific way: "I am a yoga teacher, I am an advanced, strong, and skilled yoga practitioner." This type of listening comes with an implied list of expectations. Anytime I fall short of those expectations, I feel discouraged, frustrated, and disempowered. I leave my mat feeling like I failed.

So, what if I change my judgement? What if I listen to and interact with my body like I would with someone I am meeting for the first time? What if I look at myself in a neutral way, free of rules and expectations?

I gave this a try, and my whole experience of yoga shifted. I felt a new sense of freedom, creativity, curiosity, and playfulness. I no longer had a fixed idea of what my practice "should" look like, and I enjoyed the process in a whole new way.

In some poses, I modified to make it slower, simpler, and easier. In others, I surprised myself by going further and achieving a deeper expression that I had no idea was even possible. I detached myself from the expectations of each pose and simply allowed it to flow through me. Because I had no judgement and no desired result, I was able to reach new places I never knew existed. I had set myself free.

Since this discovery, I have translated this new way of listening into my daily conversations. The judgement I have for myself and other people is still present, but now I am aware of it. The moment I recognize the judgement, I can change it. Just as I changed the way I listen to myself, I can change the way I listen others and give them the space to show up in a new and different way.

Aubrey Klein