Access Consciousness has introduced many of us to the concept of awareness, and to the ubiquitous nature of judgment. Many people are very unsure about how to tell the difference, and with good reason. Telling the difference can be confusing as a judgment and an awareness can seem the same. For example, “That child is swimming in deep water.” can be spoken as an awareness or a judgment.
So how do we tell the difference? The difference can be found in whether or not there’s a reaction to the situation. Have you ever noticed how some situations seem to have a real charge for you? Maybe it’s a getting a call from your mom, or your boss calling you into the office, or hearing the results of an election. Whatever it is, if you find yourself with an emotional charge, you can be sure that there’s a judgment involved. Let’s go back to the example of “That child is swimming in deep water”. If you came across that situation and immediately went into a panic reaction, you’re in a judgment. It could be something like; “They’re in danger, something terrible is going to happen”, etc., and the energy would become very contracted. You might even reference something from your own past experience. If you came across that same situation, and you were in the space of awareness, you would go to question. “Is that child in danger”? “Is there anything that’s required of me to do here?” You might even become aware that the child is a strong swimmer. There would not be any conclusions or emotional response to the situation. There would just be a knowing.
You might be wondering why any of this matters, or if there is a value in moving from judgment to awareness. There is! Here’s the thing about going into judgment: it keeps us from seeing what’s really going on with any particular person or situation. Judgment does not allow us to be present with “what is”. Judgment is about drawing conclusions about or from a particular situation, and is always influenced by our past. If a dog has bitten you in the past, then it’s easy to go to the judgment that dogs are dangerous and you better be careful. Notice that there’s no question here. What if, when you met a new dog, you allowed yourself to move into awareness with the situation? This is really about being the question. By being the question with the new dog, and moving into awareness, you may discover that the past does not have to repeat itself, and you don’t have to go to fear or withdrawal with this particular dog.
Have there ever been times where you might have limited what could show up in your life because you’ve been judging and referencing your past? Most of us do that at one time or another. While the example of the dog may not represent an important event in your life, what if you were going to judgment about something that was important to you? For example, suppose your boss was in a grumpy mood and you were waiting on a possible big promotion. If you allow yourself to go to judgment, you would be trying to figure out what was wrong, as in “Have I done something to displease him?” Does this mean that I won’t get the promotion?”. Now these may sound like questions, but they are actually conclusions (judgments) with question marks at the end. What will they create? Probably worry and anxiety!!! What if, instead of judgment you went to awareness and asking open-ended questions such as: “Does this have anything to do with me?” “Is there anything I need to be aware of here that I’m not currently aware of?” Can you see how that would create more space and ease? You are asking questions about what actually is rather than focusing on possible disasters. This generates the freedom to choose from what’s actually going on rather than from your fantasies.
Another benefit of awareness is that it assists us in seeing something that might seem unpleasant but can actually give us freedom. If you’ve decided, (judged) that your partner is a good and wonderful person, can you receive the information that he or she is actually mean? Not at all! When we judge, we cut ourselves off from valuable information that would allow us to move forward from harmful or contractive situations.
One other way to tell the difference between judgment and awareness is to look at the solidity of your response. If it’s contractive and solid, then it’s a judgment and will probably stay with you a long time. If it’s light and seemingly fleeting, then you’re probably functioning from awareness. Because we and everything else in and about life is always changing, your awareness of what is will always be changing. That’s good news, because it means you will not be dragging you’re past forward with you and applying it to current situations.
Moving from judgment to awareness can give you not only more freedom, but also much more ease in your life. Because awareness allows us to see what actually is, rather than apply interpretations and draw conclusions to an event, it’s so much easier to act in ways that are congruent with the
The willingness to come out of judgment and into awareness is also about the willingness to receive. We can’t actually receive when we are choosing judgment, because judgment insures that only that which matches our judgment can show up. When we function from judgment we are actually making a vain attempt to control our lives and our environment – usually in an effort to “be safe”. How does that work out? Generally not at all! Because judgment doesn’t allow us to receive all of the information we require, we are often left in the position of choosing or making decisions (judgment) based on partial or inaccurate information! As Gary Douglas says: “The only real security comes from the willingness to be totally aware.”
The movement from judgment to awareness may not be instantaneous. We are all so used to coming to conclusions and mistaking them for truths, that it can take a bit of time for all of this to unravel. However, If you are willing to choose awareness instead of judgment, you will find your life changing in ways you’ve never imagined!