27 Apr Do You Judge Your Body Often?
Becoming comfortable in your skin is a tricky thing. It feels like when it comes to how to not care what people think of you, it takes ages to master this phenomenon, especially when both, you and I, judge others constantly on our way to work, at work, outside of work, for dating, for hiring, etc.
So naturally, when it comes to looking at your own body- we automatically arrive at general conclusions (lacking thoughtfulness and understanding).
The process of your mind observing, analyzing and forming opinions is quite natural- we have evolved to have complex thoughts and beliefs. However, it’s thoughts that involve criticism or negativity that throws one’s peace out of balance. Inner peace and preventing the inveterate nature of instantaneous reactions plays a key role in becoming comfortable with who you are.
Why should we explore our judgments?
It’s quite simple- if we let a tap flow without monitoring it, it will overflow and eventually flood your house. Similarly, negative judgments, left unmonitored can cause a lot of detriment and unconscious suffering in life. It can be so overpowering that your true emotions and thoughts or dreams can be thwarted or affected…just because of the fear attached to wondering what everyone else will think of you.
Through examination, you can look deeper and unravel the root cause of self-judgement- which could have stemmed from childhood observations or events. For example, I used to judge my body for being too hairy all the time, every day! It wasn’t until I moved to another country and forced myself to adapt, that I decided to become comfortable with who I am. I didn’t want to impress anybody anymore, just so that their words made me feel confident- I knew that I have to become confident, I had to rise from judgement and stares and not shave for a whole year to accept my body for what it is.
P.S: I’m not asking anybody to go shave-free, all I want to do is shine a light on my a-ha moment of self-acceptance, which came from years of struggling to finally become brave and face it. I would ask anybody who judges themselves or others to become brave and work towards seeing the change they want to see. (mine happened to be saving years of cash on wax and razors- just kidding 🙂 )
Just the fact that you’ve read up to here, shows that you are willing to investigate your judgement and how you react to things, with an attitude towards changing negativity. I’m really happy to tell you that the first step to progress, is in acknowledging the fact that you’ve made mistakes and want to make a change.
How can meditation make a difference?
Judgement happens when we form a strong negative reaction to incidents. This reaction could be about your body or it could be about someone else’s body and it happens almost instantaneously. With meditation, you can slow down your thoughts, look inwards and watch how your body reacts to certain thoughts.
A lot of judgmental thoughts about yourself or others can be traced back to emotional events or influences of the past. This is why meditation will help you gain a deeper, more personal and more importantly, non-judgmental understanding of why you feel the way you do. For example, with meditation, I discovered that I was gaining weight because I was afraid to be looked at sexually( it’s true). I had gone through a traumatic event when I was 19 years old which made me retrieve into a shell and feel jealous of everybody around me that didn’t gain weight. I felt like they were naive and oblivious.
Later on, I realized that it shouldn’t matter how everybody else lives their life, I have to live mine the way I want to- without any fear. A lot of that has to do with going deep inside my mind and accepting that I was afraid of certain things. I did this without judgement and I also finally changed my perspective of “if you point your finger at someone, know that there are 3 fingers pointing back at you”. I first heard this quote as a scolding from my mother, so I always used to dislike this quote, because it always made me feel like I was doing something wrong, but I realized that what it really means is to question if you are feeling a certain way because of something that you did….it’s not about you doing something bad, it’s just about understanding that what you project onto others, can be changed my looking inwards positively. Mistakes can enrich you, and sometimes you have to point at someone (in your head) before you finally can open up and point at yourself to make a change 3 times bigger!
How can we meditate to lose judgement?
Let’s begin with introspection.
Try to remember a recent time when you judged your body or someone else’s.
Now, close your eyes and feel that moment.
What does your body feel at that moment? Anger, jealousy, guilt, sadness?
Spend some time inquiring if your reactions are related to a thought you had. For example, I would feel more vulnerable if I saw someone good looking walk by, if I had just looked at the mirror and judged myself negatively. Similarly, try to look back at your thoughts and see if that led to a judgement.
Reflect on where this judgement comes from- does it arise from someone or something in the past? Do you judge your body or others often?
Lastly, don’t judge yourself after you’ve come to a conclusion. Any inkling that can connect you to your reactions is a powerful tool that shows you how your mind works- and that’s that. You don’t have to look at your old thoughts in a negative way. All you are doing with this exercise is experiencing your own mind, it’s patterns, unleashing emotions that your body experiences, understanding where it comes from without any judgement or criticism with balance and curiosity.
Practice the act of love and kindness: Pen down your thoughts as you’ve finished reflecting on the exercise. Pay special attention to your reactions and any sensations in your body that can be linked to judgement. Also, write about the sensations that you felt while being judgmental. Now write about the changes you felt a second later- after you engaged yourself in true loving-kindness.
Nehita is a mindfulness expert who writes extensively on lifestyle management, wellness and ways to lead a healthier and a happier life. She is a part of Aware’s expert team on meditation. She is also an avid artist who spends most her time dribbling amazing stories through art.