not using mindfulness as a tool for self-criticism

I have been trying to practice more mindful eating this past month. I realized that I was not paying a good amount of attention to what I ate, how I ate, and how much I ate because instead of focusing on my food, I was paying attention to consuming either some information or entertainment, mostly in the form of videos on YouTube. I was not taking in the simple pleasure of eating a good meal; I was rushing through it, like a daily chore. 

I started detaching my meal from being glued to a screen and watching something. Most of the times I succeeded, but there were also times when the temptation just overpowered me. The uncoupling of picking up a spoon and a TV remote at the same time is still in progress at my end. But there’s also something else I noticed, actually just today.

Instead of trying to cultivate mindfulness during my meals, somewhere along the journey, I also started using it as a tool, as a weapon if you will, for self-judgement and self-criticism.

But mindfulness is about observing our mind, about being present, not about breeding negativity within us by denigrating or judging ourselves. Right?

The downside of being an achiever is that we’re too strict and too harsh on ourselves. It’s important that we overcome this for our own good. Our intellectual knowledge, whether it be with respect to mindfulness or any other aspect of life, if we’re not careful, can easily become a springboard for criticism and judgment, either towards ourselves or others, when we lack an experiential understanding of it.

Conditioning takes time. Forming new pathways and grooves in the brain takes time. And so we must be patient with others and most importantly, with ourselves. 

Use mindfulness as a space, as an avenue to bring more awareness, and then use that awareness to improve and elevate yourself and enhance your experience gradually with time, not as an excuse to judge and criticize yourself or others. 

It’s best to let go of the temptations, and instead practice compassion and empathy for ourselves and others.

Although we know what we must do intellectually, many times, it takes time to actually incorporate and make it a part of our daily experience. This is normal. This is how we humans are designed.

So, let’s not weaponize mindfulness to inflict criticism and judgment on ourselves and others. Instead, we can use it as a bridge to minimize the gap between our intellect and our daily experience.