My 4-year-old son will often rush over to the dinner table, excited to chow down, but then look at his plate and say, "Ugh, what's that green stuff? I'm not going to eat it."
Our usual response to him is: "But you haven't even tried it." To which he responds, "I just don't wike it." (We're working on his pronunciation of 'L' by the way, but that's another story.)
Over the past week, this type of instant judgment has been coming up for me in various places. I have noticed that, just like my son does, I have been automatically assigning judgment to things PRIOR to taking time to better understand what they entail.
Last week I tried a new spin class that is all the rage right now. Within two minutes, I decided I hated it.
In a room with dimmed lights and outrageously loud music, the buff male instructor led us through a 45-minute class, inspiring the class of 50 sweaty spinners to push a little harder. Off the bat, I started thinking this just isn't for me. It's so NOT yoga. But that's when I flicked the internal switch.
So, while cranking up the dial to the beat of the music in spin class, I decided to suspend my instant judgment, and I made a conscious choice to just be in the moment in order to experience something new. I made a decision to simply accept that my experience could be either positive or negative. But that's all it was - an experience that comes and goes. I didn't need to make a huge deal of it. In the end, I actually had fun and shockingly enough, found myself smiling.
My teacher, Baron Baptiste, speaks about yoga being in everything we do. Yoga isn't just about the asana (physical practice), it's in how we approach and embody our everyday activities. Practicing ahimsa (non-harming) will help us be kind in our thoughts, while practicing vairagya (non-attachment) will allow us to let go of what we must, like those moments of anger or judgment.
It's human nature to make judgments or jump to unfair conclusions. But often, a quick reaction can cause great strife.
Take a recent football example. Those who know me well can attest that I'm not a huge sports fan. But I paid attention this past Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks claimed victory over the San Francisco 49ers, and are now headed to the Super Bowl. In an interview after their win, Seahawks player Richard Sherman declared he was "the best corner[back] in the game," adding he was better than his opponent, 49ers player, Michael Crabtree.
Well, that sure got people talking. Many said Sherman was brash and out-of-line. At first glance, I even sided with the harsh descriptions of this outspoken football player.
But what if Sherman had praised Crabtree? Then we'd all be fine with it, right? Instead, he stirred the pot with his actions and comments. Today I came across an article that defended Sherman. It shed a different light on the story and changed my perspective. It snapped me (and perhaps others) out of our own snap judgments.
Is it possible for us to allow others to have their own experiences, even if we don't agree with them? Can we let go of uncomfortable comments and moments rather than create more harm by criticizing, judging and passing blame?
It takes practice to notice when we are making quick judgments, and even more practice to try to suspend those judgments. We all have the metaphorical "green stuff" on our dinner plates - let's be open enough to give it a try. We just might "wike" them.