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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D., has helped hundreds of thousands of people from over 87 countries find happiness, success, and fulfilment in their social, professional, and love lives. His presentations – whether keynotes, seminars, or workshops – leave clients with insights into their behaviour, psychology, and keys to their empowerment. His training methodologies are the result of over a decade of coaching and education of thousands of students around the world. Join him on the “DTPHD Podcast” as he explores deep questions of meaning, success, truth, love, and the good life. Subscribe now.
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About Stefan Ravalli:
Forever studying masterful humans and the art of service the world over to bring their practices to our (sometimes “service-deficient”) culture, Stefan Ravalli combines all that with his expertise in meditation, mindfulness, and communication/listening to raise the game of service professionals – and anyone looking to upgrade how they connect with others (and themselves). Learning meditation was a game-changer for Stefan. It gave him the inner strength to be his unique self (without the negative self-talk!), connect with others better, and live a healthy happy life. Meditation also makes you realize your potential and gives you the fearlessness to pursue bigger and better things you never thought possible, so Stefan left a leadership role at a high-profile bar/restaurant to India to teach meditation. After doing that for years and deepening his tea ceremony practice, Stefan realized that the art of service was the richest path of self-cultivation available to him. Serving anything anywhere was the best way to apply and accelerate all the upgrades he got from meditation. So he started Serve Conscious to bring these tools and practices to anyone where service is part of their life – to awaken us to the power of service as a means of growth and self-mastery.
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DTPHD Podcast Episode 29 Show Notes:
1:00 Why some people think “judging” is bad and wrong
6:44 Are there drawbacks for judging?
13:55 Why should we stay open to judgment?
18:15 The difference between subjectivism and relativism, and why it matters
22:34 What is the value of non-judgment?
30:20 The value of leaning into discomfort
Why Judging Isn’t Always Bad w/ Stefan Ravalli
David Tian Ph.D. and Stefan Ravalli discuss why some us of condemn judgment.
David Tian Ph.D. and Stefan Ravalli clarify how judging is different from taking action.
David Tian Ph.D. and Stefan Ravalli tell us to be better in making judgments and arguments instead.
Judgment isn’t always negative, David Tian Ph.D. and Stefan Ravalli explain why.
In this podcast episode, David Tian Ph.D. and Stefan Ravalli emphasize the importance of leaning into the discomfort.
Truth, love, and the good. Here we go.
David Tian: Welcome to the new podcast. I’m David Tian, PhD and I’m one of your co-hosts. And I’m joined here by Stefan Ravalli. How are you doing, Stefan?
Stefan Ravalli: I’m doing well. How are you?
David Tian: Good. And in case you don’t know who I am, for over the past 13 years, I’ve been helping hundreds of thousands of people with their dating, relationships, lifestyle, and in over 87 countries. And Stefan, how about you give a quick intro yourself?
Stefan Ravalli: How’s it going? I’m Stefan Ravalli. I am a meditation and mindfulness content creator and conversation starter. And I’ve got possibly the world’s only mindful service education resource called Serve Conscious that I’m super proud of.
David Tian: Very cool. So, our topic for today is judgment, why judgment isn’t bad, and what to do about it, and how this is going to change your life and make it awesome. So, let’s start with Stefan. Before we hit record, we were having a discussion about the potential controversy about judgment, and specifically, starting with a mindfulness space, people who occupy that kind of wellness space. Can you tell me more about that? Because as a philosopher, I’m very familiar with judgment. That’s something that happens for us all the time. Why would people think judgment is bad?
Stefan Ravalli: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s just a semantics thing. You know, it’s just like a huge mindfulness buzzword and antidote to what they believed to be a lot of problems in the world is non-judgment. So, it has a lot of value in experiencing things openly. Like, let’s just say it’s not something that’s absolutely dire and problematic, but I think we just need to really understand the importance of… And to be just open and available to all possibilities, and when to actually take action, and when to use our more critical faculties.
And now, the mindfulness movement, in short, is basically a lot of Buddhists and Eastern practices adapted to American sensibilities, and really core awareness practices being boiled down to stuff that’s really practical and sensible to everyone without burdening them with potential mystical or esoteric sounding language. It’s like updated Buddhism, in a way. But it’s often, by no means, as deep and rich as Buddhist teachings. But mindfulness is amazing and has done incredible work to up-level areas of society that these practices would never normally get to, like corporate America and stuff.
It’s doing incredible work and I consider myself a representative working in this space of mindfulness as well. And in Tenshin, we call stuff mindfulness because it’s an easy concept for people to understand when it comes to living in a way that’s present, conscious, intent, and always being aware of ourselves and aware of what’s good for us as people, aware of what’s good for people around us. We’re using practices that improve our abilities to be a smooth, skillful, fluid human being. That is roughly a mindfulness sensibility. And so yeah, mindfulness, great. Non-judgment, not so great in some situations.
So, let’s talk about judgment in the mindfulness framework, and why pretty much across the board, they’ll say there’s no place for judgment. You’d use something else. You wouldn’t use judgment ever. And I’ve asked these questions, and I don’t know if I have a definitive answer from the real, orthodox mindfulness teachers that are only steeped in teachings from American mindfulness, which I’m not. My teachings go way beyond that.
And I said, “Okay, so what’s non-judgment?” They’re like, “Well, you experience something and you don’t think negatively about it. You don’t think that it shouldn’t be there, and you don’t like resist it. You don’t dismiss it. You don’t condemn it.” I’m like, “Well, that sounds like you just shouldn’t resist, dismiss, condemn, repress, suppress, avoid.” But that stuff doesn’t necessarily have to do with judgment.
Because judgment requires making an evaluation. And Buddhist principles are resistance to the idea of labeling things too quickly and jumping to conclusions too quickly. It’s like wait and see. There could be more going on here than you think. And life’s bigger than these words you’re going to create to describe things and label things. Don’t just like boil it down to…
For example, someone is giving a lecture or something and they’re like 18 years old, and you don’t listen to them because you’re like, “What could some little kid have to teach me? Screw that guy. Plus he’s got weird hair.” That’s judgment from the mindfulness perspective. And obviously, this is going to cause problems with us really honestly experiencing reality. But the problems that are most toxic in terms of judgment is negative internal self-talk.
Mindfulness is on a full-frontal assault against that. And actually, most self-development practices are. And often, I think that’s what they mean. You’re having an experience internally, and you’re judging it as bad. That’s what they mean. But that doesn’t mean that judgment is bad. It just means judging your experiences and anything about yourself as bad is a bad thing, so to speak. So, that’s my really roundabout way of talking about…
David Tian: Thanks for that. That’s very interesting for me. And clearly, you have some disagreement with them or with that view that you have ascribed to them. And some of that’s leaking out already. So, let’s just get into it before I jump the gun here. What are the drawbacks that you see to taking that view of judgment?
Stefan Ravalli: Well, when it comes to living a life, it’s not just about watching it happen without getting involved. In such an event, non-judgment would make sense. But eventually, we’re going to need to take action. And in order to take action, we need to make a judgment. Because judgment means all of these other possibilities are the wrong one except this one. Because in any given moment, you can only do one possible thing. You can take one possible path.
And for that, you need judgment. And in the yogic traditions I’ve been trained in, this is called viveka, known as discrimination. And discrimination is also a dirty word in our society because it’s associated with bigotry and racism. We think, “Because this is a certain way, or looks, or smells, or seems to be a certain way, I’m prejudging this.” Prejudging, there’s the word judge. “I am predetermining the value of this thing and saying, “Oh, it’s not worthy because of these superficial characteristics,” and that’s considered discrimination.”
But in the yoga tradition, discrimination basically says, “I have an innate ability to look at a situation, openly, absolutely. But while I’m looking at something openly, non-judgmentally according to the mindfulness framework, eventually, there’s only going to be one possible path that reveals itself. There’s got to be a decision made, and there’s got to be one possible right action, so to speak. So, you need judgment for that because judgment is the ability of saying yes, no, right, wrong – for right now. Not absolutely right-wrong. It’s not moral. It’s not like damning. It just simply allows us to progress forward and it prevents us from getting manipulated.
Because if you’re fully open and you’re like, “Everything’s fine. Everything’s good.” That’s when exploitation can occur. Eventually you have to say, “Oh, judgment. Thank you. Boundaries. This doesn’t work for me. This does not fit into what I think to be right for myself and people I care about.” It eventually has to be used to do what’s right. And in fact, the more you meditate, the more mindful you are, the more you are becoming a more aware and open person, the better your judgment and discrimination should become because now, you are looking at things consciously with awareness.
Judgment always occurs when you’re aware, basically.
David Tian: Yeah, thanks. That’s great that you put it out there, arguments, and then you made it clear where you disagree. I would totally side with you. I’m trying to be more sympathetic to their view. So, I do like the no negative internal self-talk. That’s good, really stretching here. And I like the openness. Open is good. Staying open, that’s good. What I think the whole thing is undermined by, and my training as a philosopher, I was a professor of philosophy, we judge for a living. If we stop judging, we’d be out of work. So from the very beginning, they’re judging that judgment is bad. It’s ridiculous, right? They’re so illogical. This is the reason why they have very little traction in certain parts of society because these other parts of society have their brains turned on, and these guys are like, “Feel, feel, feel.” Like the vegans who come in like, “Don’t judge. Keep it open. But if you’re not a vegan, fuck you.”
They can judge. They can say, “No judgment” when it’s to their benefit. But as soon as you’re judging someone who disagrees with you, and from that space, the mindfulness person like, “You don’t believe. You don’t agree with me about judgment? Well, I judge you for not believing me about judgment.” Ridiculous. It’s like where’s the logic here? So hopefully, people are not that switched off on their brains. They can turn them back on. You realize the English word “judgment” is completely being ripped out of context here, being used for its own purposes, in a rhetorical, polemic way, by these mindfulness people.
So, hopefully, that won’t turn you off from mindfulness. The actual practice of mindfulness is actually quite simple compared to all of the baggage that’s coming along with it. But overall, I think their intention is good. They don’t want you to engage in internal self-talk, which is negative. And I think the thing that they’re missing is this discrimination, this judgment, this specific difference that they’re missing, which is the difference between the English word “judgment” and the English word “attack” or “condemn.” In other words, look, I can evaluate one of my employees as having performed subpar this month. That doesn’t mean I will then fire him. That’s a separate distinction, right? That’s a separate determination. So, you can evaluate all you want. In fact, you should. That’s what we teach children to do. We send them to school so they can evaluate whether they got the answer right or wrong.
And hopefully, they’ll be able to discern the difference between right and wrong so they don’t smack Tommy in the face just because they don’t like him. So, we’re teaching them these things. We’re actually teaching them to evaluate, to be smart, to be street smart, to not get hoodwinked, to you know all of that stuff, to be turned on, to have the brains turn on. So, they’re evaluating. But what you do about your evaluation is a separate thing. I think all mindfulness people would benefit a lot from a serious course on philosophy or logic, but those are very different things.
So, to condemn judgment is a judgment in itself. So, I feel like I’m in a debating class now, so there we go. And the other thing is the moralism, right? So there’s this one technique that moralistic people like to use, is: If they can rope in certain concepts that are, in terms, that have connotations that are rich, and they can use them for their own means. They can warp them and then they become – if you’re a discerning philosopher, you realize that guy, that philosopher is using that word in a very specific way that is different from a dictionary definition of it. And that’s totally fair. If you can’t do that, then you’re really tied down.
So, we’re going to allow that. Let’s say these mindfulness people are using this particular English word “judgment” in a really special way. But what it sounds like to the average listener is that there’s something that we do on a daily basis that’s very useful and is giving us a lot of survival value. That without judgment, we would probably not have evolved in the way that we have. We’d probably be meat for the bigger predators. We’re very good at judging, and this has become very useful for us over the millions of years. And they’re plugging into the connotations of that and attacking that, and makes it sound like they’re saying something really deep, and big, and special.
But actually, they’re just saying: Don’t condemn things. Keep an open mind. You might be wrong. So, you can judge something without taking action on it. Or you can say, “Okay, this sounds like it’s not right. But I’m going to wait and see. But right now, I’m leaning more towards this other option.” And that’s what healthy adults and smart adults hopefully will do, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. So I guess the takeaway for practice is openness over judgment.
When you judge and you close the door on the thing that you’ve judged to be subpar, or to lose in this scenario, if you keep the door open, but you decide not to walk through the bad door, and wait and see, as long as you can, practically speaking, keep it open… Now in the Hitler example, you should have acted a lot earlier. So, Malcolm Gladwell has written his new book on judgment, on judging strangers and how we suck at it, yet we should still evaluate. One of the things was the Prime Minister of the UK at the time, in 1938-1939, met with Hitler personally. And most of Europe was quite nervous about what Hitler was doing, and the UK prime minister went to meet him and then proclaimed him a-okay. He made a bad judgment. And as a result, they acted too late, and Hitler charmed the heck out of that guy, and pulled one over on him. There’s an example of why you should get better at judgment.
You can have poor judgment. Let’s bring that back into the lexicon of mindfulness: poor judgment. Poor judgment is not good. We’re not encouraging it. If you want to not have poor judgment, get better at judging. There’s an example of, “What are you going to do when you make that determination?” Okay, so let’s roll time back. Let’s say the Prime Minister had better judgment and he thought, “Hitler, this guy’s crazy and he’s dangerous. Let’s do something about it to start containing him, because he’s going to attack and invade Poland very soon because he keeps saying this sort of thing.”
So, we can now act. But there are times when we withhold, not judgment, but action. So, you can still judge in your mind and wait and see. Maybe this person will surprise you. Maybe you were wrong. That’s a separate action: judging, and then the action, the practical determination of what you’re going to do about it. It’s separate from the actual judgment. So, I break it down and be a lot more logical about it, a lot more clear about it. And then once you do that, then all the mysticism disappears and it’s just think well and act well.
Stefan Ravalli: Yeah. I don’t know if this is at all relevant to the subject, but did you know that a lot of what funded the Hitler philosophy was ancient, esoteric, yogic philosophy and text?
David Tian: Yes, the whole Aryan ideology.
Stefan Ravalli: Oh man. They were all Vedic scholars. I mean they had like, what was it? Which guy was it? Not [INAUDIBLE]. Who’s the other guy? Himmler. Himmler’s like there’s these four horsemen of the apocalypse, one of the four horsemen. He had a Bhagavad Gita on his pocket. That’s basically like the bible of yogis.
David Tian: At the time, Germany was this greatest seat of learning in all of the West.
Stefan Ravalli: Yep. They had the most decorated Indian philosophy scholars working for them, for the Nazi Party, looking through all these texts and extracting, pulling out of context these ideologies that they could use to justify what they were doing and make it sound really good. Like, it sounded utopian because Yogic philosophy can sound utopian.
And it could sound like, “Oh, we’ve got to make some sacrifices, but that’s fine because there’s no good or bad anyway. There’s simply what serves the collective and what does not.” So, I’m serving the collective right now by being a genocidal warlord. This can be used to hypnotize people into grotesque behavior and policies, things happening. Anyways, I guess this has to do with judgment because…
David Tian: It’s a moral judgment as well. So, morality – this is the other thing we wanted to… We were toying with the idea of getting into the morality for this episode, but it’s going to be too big of a topic, so we have to think more deeply about how to cut it down. But just briefly on moral judgment – and I brought up Hitler. So, moving it that way. But…
Stefan Ravalli: When you bring up Hitler, you got to be ready to talk.
David Tian: Well, there’s the subjectivity which is different from relativism. And the modern world, it seems like from my experience with just talking to people in the modern West and in Asia in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, is that morality and consciousness around issues of thinking about what is good and what is right have fallen by the wayside because they have ascribed to some kind of relativism.
Because they would say something like, “A hundred years ago, we thought it was good to have slaves.” And things like that. And I would say, “Well, that’s just because they were poor judgers. They sucked at their thinking.” And if you wanted to come back at them and say actually doing that is wrong, you need an argument. You don’t just fight, or scream, or whine, or blame, which is where it’s going now because they’ve decided that logic is evil, or that clear thinking is evil. And instead, it’s whoever is the biggest victim and can cry the hardest wins the argument and gets to have the attention, and the money, and the policy, and so on.
And I think it would be really, really good, and I think a lot of people in the west who are not maybe as vocal on social media, or the media in general, who don’t own Vox or something, would be happy to hear that we like clear thinking. We like being able to make a good argument and then to actually put out a good argument for why Hitler was bad, and evil, and should be contained. And you’re free to disagree in a free society and put out your argument.
But just because the bad arguments won 100 years ago does not mean arguments are bad. I mean, that itself is an argument. So, you just get better at judging, better at discerning, better at making arguments, better at discerning where the bad arguments are, and where the faults in logic, and to reintroduce logic and originally what these Eastern thinkers that these guys are trying to – and they’re abusing. As a philosopher, as a professor of Asian philosophy, I can tell you, they’re abusing the thought processes of these ancient philosophers. None of these ancient philosophers were devoid of logic.
And in fact, there are many studies of Asian logic going as far back as 500 BCE. So, it’s not that they’re like, “Oh, feel. Everyone love, love, love.” If they ran society that way, it would not have gotten to the level of civilization that they attained in Asia for the 1,500 years ensuing from there. It was a focus on clear thinking and argumentation. And this was a key and core component of all Asian philosophy. It’s why we are able to call it philosophy instead of just fuzzy, feel good thinking.
Stefan Ravalli: Yeah, and this is a huge tradition in India as well. I mean, one of the most important, most enlightened scholars in the history of India, Adi Shankara, who is the founder of the Shankaracharya, which is really, really esteemed schools of yogic masters. They’re called the kings of the Yogi’s. When he rose to prominence, engaged in a debate with a rival who he had a healthy rivalry with even though he had a flawed way of going about beating him. It was this rivalry. And that was a good thing.
And when they debated to determine who had the deepest and fullest knowledge of life, that debate went on for six months. They sat in a room and they were just fed water and food, and they went at it for six months. No one’s going to have the stamina for something like that unless they have a certain appetite for judgment and certain appetite for saying, “It’s okay to make value statements.” It’s okay to have values. It doesn’t mean that you’re not open. Open means there’s a constant awareness that you do have these values, and a constant readiness to understand what they are, where they come from, and if they’re serving the moment. And it’s a constant readiness to adapt, and adjust, and shift. It’s more of like a readiness to shift. It’s not like a blank slate, like apathetic blob kind of approach to life.
And that model has never worked and no one’s ever lived effectively like that. And when you use words like non-judgment… I understand the value of it because it is especially relevant to not rejecting your experiences, because that’s one of the most common pastimes of the mind, to just look at itself and be like, “This shouldn’t be here. That shouldn’t be there. Nothing that’s going on in me is good. I’m terrible. I suck. I’m now having feelings of anger that’s causing difficulties in my relationship. These feelings suck. I wish they were gone.” And it’s wanting these things to not be happening in you anymore. And that’s considered judgment.
What that is is rejection and non-acceptance. That’s not judgment.
David Tian: I think I see what they’re doing with the word judgment. So for them, the word judgment implies negative judgment.
Stefan Ravalli: Yeah. And it’s good to even say, “What is negative judgment?” There’s just judgment that just fragments you, but there’s also judgment that connects things, too. And the problem is, they throw the baby out with the bath water. So, there’s the judgment that fragments you from yourself and cuts you off..
David Tian: So, they’re against judging things as bad, but they’re for judging things as good. So, they’re still using judgment.
Stefan Ravalli: They’re still using judgment. But the problem is, that people are afraid of any judgments. Judgments that could connect you to something more deeply. So when you’re like, “I don’t want to judge” but this judge could actually deepen your understanding of something, or somebody, or of yourself. And you’re afraid to do it because judgment’s bad and so it creates this sort of patterning of not wanting to do any kind of work on something.
David Tian: Well, the way out of that problem of rejecting what’s happening in the mind… And this is a common therapeutic block or obstacle that comes up with clients… Is that while they’re meditating or while they’re in the therapy session, or while they’re processing emotions, they begin to try to push back, repress, or condemn any emotions that they’re feeling as if the thought is, “I should not be feeling this.”
And then it becomes a lot more painful or they start to suffer as a result. So, the antidote is to lean into it, is to judge it to be good. This is good. This is sort of like when you work out at the gym and you think, “This pain shouldn’t be happening.” I’m doing dumbbell flyes in this video right now. So, you’re going, “This pain, this feeling is not good.” Well, if you keep doing that, you’re not going to stay at going to the gym, and you’re not going to enjoy the workout, and you’re not going to have a good workout because you’re going to be resisting and tensing up instead of breathing into it.”
And instead, and this is the Arnold Schwarzenegger hack that all dudes know about, that when he’s working out, he’s pumping that blood into his muscle… Normally, people think that’s an uncomfortable feeling, but he associated that with that discomfort with progress. Like, if this feeling is happening, that means tomorrow, I’m going to be bigger. I’ll be stronger. So, if you just put those two together like straight-up NLP anchoring style, you’re going to start liking that feeling, and that’s really the only way to actually keep workouts going, is if you enjoy them.
So, find a workout that you enjoy and you’ll keep at it. And it’s the same with like if you ask anybody who is fit. They enjoy the activity. They can’t hate it or they would have quit a long time ago. And what they’re doing is they’re judging it to be good. The antidote in the therapy or meditation setting where the person is trying to shove down certain emotions that are coming up or sensations, is to be open and lean into them because they’re good. So what you say to them is, “Good. You feel like shit? Good. That is good that you’re feeling that because that’s called progress.”
Because if you stay in your comfort zone and everything’s comfortable, you’re going to stay in your comfort zone and not grow. So, growing always is going to be uncomfortable until you realize that is the sign of growth, and then you lean into it, and now you welcome it. So, it’s the same. I think I brought this up last time and I’m still healing from this knee injury. And every time we go to the doctor, they have to debride the wound, which is like there’s some scabbing that’s happening, but they got to get the antibiotic cream right into that wound. They want to speed it up. So, he takes this wet Q-tip and just – over my skin, skin off, and it stings like crazy.
And the first day, they didn’t warn me about any of this is going to go on. So, I’m like, “Wah, what are you doing?” And in my mind, I’m thinking, “I grew this scab. That’s good. So, why the fuck are you trying to take it off now? No!” And the doctor, this is in Taiwan so they speak Chinese, and I was swearing in English. They were like, “Oh, shit. Okay.” And then they were like, “He can’t handle pain.” I heard that and I was like – but I was numb in my brain because the blood rushed up to my head that I didn’t have a quick response, so I’m like, “Just close it up, alright? Just stop.”
And then I went home and realized, “Oh, I realize what they were doing.” So then, when I went back, I started to lean into it a bit more. The first day I did that was very difficult. So, I just looked around the office as I don’t look at the wound that’s being – so when I look at it and they’re like – it amplifies the pain. So, I look away and try to distract myself and think about other things and breathe. And then I was able to handle it. Actually, that wasn’t such a big deal. And a week later, I have to go every day because I fucked it up when I was in the States and Singapore and let it get infected. So, I have to go back every day, and they do that every day. And now, I’m just like, “Okay, if it doesn’t hurt, then did they clean it up enough?” I’m like, “You guys got to get in there. I want this to heal. Get in.”
And now, I’m starting to associate that debriding with good, because it means it’s going to heal faster. And that’s a judgment. Hello, people. That’s an actual judgment. I’m judging it as good, and therefore, I’m able to welcome it, to be open to it, to lean into it. So what I tell my clients is, when these emotions come up, good. That’s a sign of progress. If no emotions come up, that’s okay too. But what you want is to be able to be at the edge of your comfort zone. In fact, when you start to not have a lot of change – and I’ve discovered this in my life in terms of money, and fitness, in learning, in all areas – when I’m not getting major paradigm shifts happening, that’s probably time for me to move on to another level or to another thing, or I can just stick with it and try to get through that tunnel and see if there’s more that I can squeeze out of that.
But often, that’s just a sign, the first signs, of plateauing. And changing it up is – or maybe you’re done, that part that you’re learning, and it’s now time to create or produce. Or you can now branch out into other areas. So, I’m also trying to pursue study of MMA. And that’s an interesting thing because it’s not really a thing. It’s not one thing – or you can think of it as like a big, capacious category, but it includes lots of disciplines: boxing, martial arts. And now I’m talking about stuff that would probably trigger mindfulness people, right?
So, if y’all are listening, man, we’re a little bit more muscular meditation here. So, “Oh no, you have to attack people, and punch them, and hurt them? Who would want that?” Yeah, so people with masculine energy would want that, and it’s enlivening. It’s an amazing feeling. So, what you don’t want to do is just dabble for a long time, then you’re not going to get good at anything. So, maybe you focus on one discipline for a whole year or two, boxing. And then you get really good at that and you’re not getting any major shifts or you’re not getting any major pain from it. Like, you’re not getting a hit from areas, from strikes that you didn’t anticipate. Now, you’ve gotten to a level of proficiency where there aren’t any major pains coming through.
And maybe pains is the wrong word. There isn’t anything new coming at you that you’re having to adjust and lean into. And now, maybe it’s time to go to BJJ, or wrestling, or another discipline. But if you’re resisting the discomfort at the edge, you’re never going to get good at anything. You’re never going to get to the point where you can move on to other things. And adults stay stuck so often in where they were, in stasis, in their mid-20s, unless they’re forced to learn, and there’s a little tip. Lean into the discomfort because it’s good. The judgment there on it, it is good and it is a sign of potential progress if you lean into it.
Stefan Ravalli: Yeah, and I would encourage everyone to go back to the episode on discomfort and how to embrace it. We’ll leave links in the show notes to that, actually. That would be a good idea. So yeah. And you know, it’s funny. You don’t even have to use the word “good”. Some people might consider that like a certain amount of trying to convince yourself of something that isn’t actually being experienced. So, let’s say you’re really far away from being able to think it’s good and feel like you could believe it. All you have to do is say, “This is happening” or “This should be happening because it is, and everything that’s happening is exactly what should be happening. It couldn’t happen any other way.”
And non-judgment, in that sense, of the mindfulness sense, is just simply not rejecting reality. Because whatever is occurring is something that is absolutely necessary for you and everyone experiencing it. And when you look at it as necessary, as something that could not be any other way – and there’s no point in wishing it was because that’s just going to isolate you from reality and being able to handle it, acknowledging things as they are, exactly as they are. That is, you know, true presence and true power to not reject any aspect of the moment.
And that is what they mean with non-judgment. You’re acknowledging things exactly as they are. Now, that doesn’t mean you should be afraid of fucking it up by actually making a value judgment, or actually taking action, or even getting angry. Because you can do so externally, external behavior, that you know should be done. And that is also accepting things exactly as they are, because things exactly as they are means being aware of how you feel about it and what you intuitively know what should be done. There’s a certain connection to your intuition that needs to be in place here. We’re going to talk about it in later episodes.
But when you really, in your bones, know that something isn’t right, that is reality showing you the one single course of right action that you need to take. And you not taking that, that is judgment because you’re rejecting something that reality is really, clearly showing you. You’re rejecting your path, and in Buddhist and Yogic traditions, you’re dharma. And that is the worst judgment you can possibly make. That is a judgment that’s shutting you off to where you’re supposed to be going. So, this openness, this acceptance of all reality means accepting of where reality is pushing you towards. That’s ultimately what you’re setting yourself up to accept.
You’re not setting it up to sit there and do nothing. You’re setting it up to say, “Yes, forward we go.” Even if it’s a bit uncomfortable, actually, especially if it’s uncomfortable because, we’ve said it now, we’ll say it again: uncomfortable stuff has the most transformative potential.” And there’s no need to push that one much farther here, but we will definitely return to that in later episodes.
David Tian: So yeah, great. Great spot to stop. And thanks so much for listening and watching all of our audience, and make sure that you go to our website tenshinmindfulness.com. And Stefan, how do they get a hold of you and find out more about you?
Stefan Ravalli: Yes. Stefan is on Instagram and LinkedIn especially. I don’t know what happened, but I have a lot of presence on LinkedIn. Find me there. I’m the only one with my spelling of my name on LinkedIn, and serveconscious.com. Lots of free educational content. It’s completely free unless you want to work with me one-on-one. I charge for consultation, a reasonable amount, but everything else, I’m just putting out there for people to learn something they don’t normally know how to do properly in their life, and that’s the serve. We’ll talk about that later though.
David Tian: Great, and you can learn more about me at davidtianphd.com. And thanks so much again for listening and watching. We’ll see you in the next episode.
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