We took a motorcycle ride on a beautiful evening. I noticed trees, some nice looking, others ugly. I saw foliage and birds, labeling everything. Crane – good, itch on my nose – bad, wind – bad, butterfly – good, road construction – bad, blue skies – good. When I really noticed my thoughts, it wore me out. All that labeling. All that deciding whether something was good or bad.
We do that all the time.
So I tried to turn off my judging and labeling brain. Do you know how hard it is to see a tree and not think tree? Or see a house and not think house?
I tried to expand my thoughts so I was bringing in sensory experiences without the labels. The trees started being in my vision with their multi-dimensional nature and all their subtle colors and different shapes. No longer was I thinking whether a tree was pretty or not. I experienced them, not judged them.
At one point when we hit some unpaved sections of road, I felt the tension of thinking that this was bad. Letting that thought go so I could notice what was happening is when I found myself enjoying that we slowed down and I could see the river better.
I felt more relaxed as I stopped the judging. My mind slowed down and quit the non-stop broadcast.
We judge not only experiences as good or bad (as if we could really know that), but people. Without knowing stories or backgrounds. We pigeon-hole them so fast. And we use confirmation bias to keep thinking about that person (political party, religion, sports team, celebrity) the same way.
I know I am extremely tired of people “calling out” other people on social media. When they don’t know what really happened. When it’s not our job to police other people’s opinions. When people are de-humanized or assigned motives as if other people can read their hearts and minds.
People are also multi-dimensional, too. And if you talk to them, before labeling them you will find they are interesting. You can learn from diverse opinions. You may find you are more alike than you think. Just as trees are more interesting if you really look and experience rather than labeling good or bad.
We all need to be discerning. But, once in awhile try to let go of the thought process that is labeling and judging. Free yourself to find that place of experience instead of inner commentating.
Though I have to admit, when we past that farm on the way home I could not find a neutral notion of that smell.