Learning to Drop the Judgement

Without realising it, judgement can play a huge role in our lives. Judgements not just on other people or situations, but also on yourself. I started to talk about this subject on a recent post, so I thought a blog would be a good space to delve further.

Firstly we're going to get a little background on yoga philosophy - then work our way back to this first thought of judgement.

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

The Yamas and Niyamas

The yamas and niyamas are yoga’s ethical guidelines laid out in the first two limbs of Patanjali’s eightfold path (often referred to as the 8 limbs of yoga) Like most forms of moral guidelines (The 10 Commandments, Eightfold path of Buddhism, Islam's Five Pillars of Worship etc.) They are like a map written to guide you on your life’s journey. Simply put, the yamas are things not to do, while the niyamas are things to do, or observances. Together, they form a moral code of conduct.

The five yamas are:

  • Ahimsa: nonviolence
  • Satya: truthfulness
  • Asteya: non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya: non-excess
  • Aparigraha: non-possessiveness, non-greed.

The five niyamas, personal practices that relate to our inner world, are:

  • Saucha: purity
  • Santosha: contentment
  • Tapas: self-discipline, training your senses
  • Svadhyaya: self-study, inner exploration
  • Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender (to God)

Today we're going to look more closely at the first 2 yamas; Ahimsa: nonviolence and Satya: truthfulness. 

Non-Harming (Ahimsa)

In Sanskrit the prefix A means “not,” while himsa means “harming, injuring, killing, or doing violence.”  Ahimsa, the first of the yamas and the highest ranking among them, is the practice of non-harming or non-violence. This is the key to maintaining both harmonious relationships in the world and a tranquil inner life.

At a deeper level, ahimsa is less a conscious process than a natural consequence of a yoga practice. As we become more loving of ourselves, both inside and out we begin to realise that the inner self in others is identical to our own inner self, and we wish no harm to come to any being. Ahimsa of course also relates to nonviolence of our not just the physical, but also the mental and emotional  - and this is where it links to judgement. When we judge ourselves or others, we bring bad energy and harm to those involved. 

Practice Tip: Practice being more kind, accepting, and forgiving of yourself and others. When ahimsa is fully embraced, an inner confidence emerges that is deep seated and surprisingly powerful.

Truthfulness (Satya)

The word sat, in Sanskrit, means “that which exists, that which is.” Satya, in turn, means “truthfulness”—seeing and noticing things as they are, rather than the way we would like them to be.

Again, linking back to judgement; often we loose the truth when we allow thoughts of judgement to effect our emotions or even our habits and values. Truth is very much based in the hear and now, not the past or the future - and this is where we want to focus throughout all of our yoga practise. Staying truthful to your values and morals, rather than the unconscious thoughts that come and go, can help you to drop any judgements. 

Practice Tip: Inwardly learn to recognise the fears and other negative emotions that prompt you to twist reality. Once you have understood and processed these fears, your thoughts, speech, and actions can be realigned with the truth, even as you look more deeply into your needs and desires. Outwardly, refrain from telling lies and speak with kindness, compassion, and clarity.

I hope with this deeper explanation, you can start to see how these two yamas are linked to judgement, and how dropping this judgment can have a huge change on our lives. As with everything in yoga though, its a journey - a regular practise, which is always developing. In the same way you can try and live by these ideas, you also have to drop any judgement on yourself if you stray from them! Life happens!

I hope this has been helpful to you, and if you have any questions at all then please get in touch or leave me a comment below.

Laura x