So I’m sitting in yoga the other day, during opening meditation. Lotus position, palms facing upward, breathing slowly…OM.
But the woman in front of me was texting. TEXTING during our OM time.
OMG! Major YOGA FAIL!
I couldn’t believe it…I thought, why would she even come to yoga if she’s going to waste this time on her phone? She's supposed to be centering herself. Just wait till we got to balance poses, she’s gonna tumble over like a stack of blocks. And I was feeling just little bit spiritually superior to her…until I realized that instead of centering myself, I had spent my meditation time thinking about what she was doing and judging her. Ha!
Years ago, I went to a Deepak Chopra lecture, and was particularly inspired by his calm and rational petition for us to let go of judgment. In nature, there is no judgment, he said. Everything is as it should be. The rain is the rain. A cloudy day is a cloudy day. It’s not good or bad, but necessary to the natural order of things. Even forest fires serve a purpose. But we humans put judgment on everything (and everyone) without seeing the full picture. We make assumptions about a situation, who someone is, what their motivations are. We decide whether a rainy day is a good or bad thing. This is an absolute waste of time. On that day I decided to do my best to stop judging (note: do my best).
They say that every person in our lives is a teacher, and I learned something about myself from the yoga-fail girl. In spite of my attempts to practice being nonjudgmental, it still creeps up in my monkey mind. Normally, when the thoughts start, I’ve learned to notice them, observe them, then let them go. But sometimes they are a runaway train, and by the time you realize what’s going on, you’re in Topeka with no return ticket.
I don’t know yoga-fail girl. I have no idea why she may have been texting. Maybe she had a loved one in the hospital, or a sick child at home. For all I know she runs a suicide hotline. Same with the guy who was tailgating me the other day (who I labeled an asshole) - maybe his wife is in labor, or he’s an undercover cop on his way to foil some evildoer’s plan. What I have learned, as a writer and an observer of life, is that every human being has a rich and complicated story, and to make a judgment call or assumption about another person is a foolish mistake.
So once again, I recommit myself to letting go of judgment. I can still make judgments based on what’s good for me, like “I wouldn’t text in yoga” or “ I wouldn’t tailgate someone” – but it isn’t my place to judge someone else in the choices they’ve made. We all have our own unique path in life. There’s no way I could possibly know what is right for another.
I didn’t get my OM time that day, but I got the message loud and clear, and of course, that was the meditation I needed. It’s time for me to put the gavel to rest, and put the focus back on my own inner peace.