Mindfulness in thought and deed is an important topic for many of us who take up the practice of yoga. But what is it? A wise teacher of mine, Jonathan Foust, once defined mindfulness very simply as non-judging awareness, a definition which continues to resonate for me.
Non-judging awareness, or compassionate observation of self and others, is deeply embedded in many branches of the yoga tradition. Those of us interested in the undertaking return to our practice each day with an intention of calmly observing and making room for each experience that presents itself.
Non-judging awareness is a simple practice, and also one that can take a lifetime to master as it continually brings us into contact with those parts of ourselves that we may prefer to keep hidden from our own and others' view. But it also has a lighter, gentler side in its ability to invite us into the joy and fullness present in each moment with no need to change, judge, or achieve. It presents an opportunity to celebrate our lives as they are right now.
In the practice of non-judging awareness, we cultivate the ability to see beneath the patterns and habits of the rational mind, allowing a deeper wisdom and intuition to be revealed. Through this intuitive wisdom we may begin to see ourselves and our surroundings with a little more clarity, we may begin to live our lives a bit more boldly.
The practice of non-judging awareness is available to any of us at any time. All that is required is a willingness to try suspending judgement and striving, if even for a moment, to rest in the convergence of breath and sensation, and to observe the results of your experiment. You may be surprised to discover that a consistent practice of mindfulness in your relationships and daily activities has the ability to change your world!
-Kate Pousont Scarborough
Director Shelburne Falls Yoga,
Co-Founder and Director Living World Yoga School