We all have a tendency to make quick judgments of our life experience. In judging experiences as bad, we often miss out on their richness. In judging experiences as good, we often feel loss as we predict their passing. Mindfulness practice has taught me that most of our judging causes unnecessary suffering. Through mindfulness, we learn to be with our experience exactly as it is in the moment, without judgment. We open ourselves to the richness God pours into life when we are not categorizing experience as good or bad.
Paradoxically, I have found that releasing judgment increases my positive emotions. I experienced this on a rainy day this week. With lots of complaining around me about the rain, the cloudiness, and the cold, I took time to pay attention to my actual experience of rain, without judgment. When I stepped out of my ideas of rain into a direct experience of rain, I discovered feelings of gratitude and pleasure related to the water falling around me...the bright green colors of spring nourished by the water...the delightful sound of drops on my umbrella...the movement of the wet air on my face. I was reminded of this passage in Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (pp. 23 & 28), and flooded with a sense of blessing:
Ludwig Feuerbach says a wonderful thing about baptism. I have it marked. He says "Water is the purest, clearest of liquids; in virtue of this its natural character it is the image of the spotless nature of the Divine Spirit. In short, water has a significance in itself, as water; it is on account of its natural quality that it is consecrated and selected as the vehicle of the Holy Spirit. So far there lies at the foundation of Baptism a beautiful, profound natural significance."...
In giving up judgment, I was freed to access the joy of God's provision through rain, to recognize the drenching of the world in God's blessing...in water...as I walked along the path. One never knows what will show up when paying attention to the present moment!
I am Irene Kraegel. I work as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based college campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!