Heather Stegmaier, M.AmSAT

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Entries in mind-body (1)


Let It Go: Observation Without Judgment

The first step on your mind-body journey towards wellness is awareness. In the Alexander Technique, this is no exception. Moving toward positive change and well-being—and away from tension and chronic pain—first involves becoming aware of your body, your mind, and your habits.

Awareness of one’s self can be difficult, as it’s common for emotions and judgment to run rampant. This is why I emphasize observation without judgment with my Alexander students.

Observation without judgment can be a new concept to many. Often times, observing ourselves automatically comes with a back story or reason why a specific sensation is happening.

This is how it normally goes:

“While bringing awareness to myself, I observe that my jaw is tense and I’m holding my tongue up to the roof of my mouth. Sigh….I always do this, it’s such an unconscious habit! After years of playing the flute, my jaw and tongue are just always so tense and overactive. I can’t believe I still do this, even though I know it’s a bad habit. I’m better than that!”

In this example, an observation turned into explaining why (at least a possibility of why, though that may not really be the reason); beating myself up for having a tense jaw; labeling it as a “bad” habit, (which is super judgy!); and finally, making a statement that I’m better than this bad habit. Wow! And that wasn’t even that harsh. I’m sure many of us have an inner-dialogue that is much more mean-spirited than that, right?

So what does observation without judgment look like?

Here’s how that goes:

“While bringing awareness to myself, I observe that my jaw is tense and I’m holding my tongue up to the roof of my mouth.”

Stop right there. That’s it.

If you feel yourself hanging a bit, that means that you’re used to judging yourself, creating a back story, or trying to figure it out. In my experience, this is never useful information. It usually falls under the category of speculation and leads to wasting time and energy.

By utilizing observation without judgment, you can simply get on with your life! Once you notice tension in the body (i.e. jaw locked and tongue tense) acknowledge it and send a message to stop tensing. Allow the body to respond appropriately.

The Alexander Technique is a method to become aware of habits of tension and give you tools to create lasting change so you can live with less pain and tension. Often, the first step on a journey of change is the hardest. If awareness is the first step, and you continue to judge every observation you become aware of, you are truly making this first step that much harder.

Let it go! Be free to observe yourself without judgment. It only gets in your way.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Sit quietly for a moment and bring awareness to yourself. Do you attach a back story or judgment to every sensation in your body? Practice observing without the judgment. What’s that like? Share your experience below!