1: Non-judging means we have to be passive and just accept everything
A: No. Non-judging is accepting the current moment. We can’t be fully present if we’re judging a situation. Judging is a ‘head’ thought process and takes us to the past, i.e. through criticism, blame and often negative words that make us feel heavy the longer we’re in the ‘judging’ mode. Instead of judging, mindfulness encourages us to practice non-judgment, which is letting go of the thoughts of a situation and tuning in to our awareness of it instead; we can then use our intuition, wisdom and discernment to decide on our next action (right action).
For example, if there’s a fire in our home, we don’t judge it as being ‘bad, horrible, a nightmare etc.’ but we also don’t sit there and let the flames engulf us. We’ll act, call the fire brigade, throw water on a fire, or run (or all three) because that’s the ‘right action’ to do. We don’t need to judge in order to do something, but we do need to ‘accept’ that things have happened or are happening. That’s going with the flow. Judging just keeps us stuck and blocks us from the flow.
2. Mindfulness is just a distraction from reality – we’re zoning out, stopping our thinking!
A: No. You’ll never stop your thinking, but mindfulness will make you more aware of what you think. Letting go of thoughts to become present is what mindful meditation is about. We don’t need thoughts to just ‘be’. Being gives us calmness, patience, joy and ultimately happiness. Thoughts do not. It is the experience of the present that fulfils a life, not mental formations. Moreover, using awareness on what we’re doing isn’t zoning out, it’s paying more attention!
3. Mindfulness isn’t going to solve my problems. What’s the point in ‘just being’ when there’s stuff to do and fix?
A: Mindfulness isn’t about doing nothing. It’s about doing things ‘with being’. We are present for what is in front of us. This includes eating, drinking, going to the loo, cleaning our teeth, walking, driving a car, having a bath and so on. We can be mindful of all these things. By being more present, your awareness improves, which in turn helps you notice when you’re suffering more (i.e. you KNOW you’re anxious, for example) and by being with these emotions (and not judging them) this can change your relationship with such emotions. Problems will come and go but they’ll be different, and you’ll be more able to see your suffering and other peoples’ suffering too. That leads to kindness, compassion and brings us back to our inherent human goodness, which is always there if we choose to see it. Paradoxically, not thinking about yourself and your problems so much will actually improve your situation than if you were to dwell on them or strive to eradicate them. Accept, forgive, move on.
4. Mindfulness discourages the use of technology.
A: No. Again, there’s no judgment! We just notice if we’re using our mobile phone 3000 times a day with our awareness. It’s an interesting fact that awareness can change our behaviour and our inherent wisdom of what’s good for us tends to overcome habits once we observe ourselves doing the same thing over and over again. This way, many mindful people CHOOSE to use technology less if it’s distracting them too much.
5. Mindfulness is only for certain people. I’m way too busy to do it. Anyhow, it’s only being selfish anyway. What about the world – climate change, etc? Shouldn’t we be working on that instead?
A: Being ‘too busy’ is thinking about time which brings in past and future. If you’re engaged in what you’re doing right NOW, you’ll be finding the present moment. Being in the present moment is something everyone does from time to time, so we could say mindfulness is actually universal. The practice of mindfulness is catching yourself leaving the present moment and choosing to come back to it. It’s no more selfish than any choice, whether it’s eating chocolate or not, or staying at home or not. One finds with mindful practice, and meditation in general, that one becomes more selfless, bringing about increased compassion, loving-kindness, love and understanding. Imagine a world where more people are this way. Perhaps mindfulness could help things like climate change, after all, if it changes peoples’ outlook on life. We certainly would evolve into more conscious beings, acting out of wise counsel, not subconscious thought patterns based on ‘fear’ based judgments.