It’s a weird situation. When you start to watch your thoughts, frequently there is a voice that goes something like “dang it – there’s a thought!”, “What am I supposed to be doing?” or “I really don’t like this.” Frequently, this takes the form of self-criticism “I’m no good at this” or “I’m not doing it right”. When this happens and someone reports they have had this kind of experience, my response is “that’s fabulous! You already have enough mindfulness to see the kind of thoughts you’re having and report on them”. And it’s true. I say the same thing to people who start a class by saying “I’m not very mindful”. I’ll say “You may have more than realize! You have enough to know that you could benefit from it and are motivated enough to get to a class, so that’s saying a lot about not only your self-awareness, but you intend to do something to improve yourself”. This is often unexpected, and it’s fun for me to observe the different ways people respond to that. (An article for later – being mindful when someone says something nice to you).

When you have these inner critic thoughts – it’s just information. “Oh, I go again”. And bring yourself back to just simple awareness. As if you were watching the clouds in the sky. They are not good clouds or bad clouds, just clouds. In the end, you’ve raised your capacity for mindfulness a bit by exercising your mindful neurology and rehearsed how to observe thoughts and feelings, without stepping into those thoughts and feelings. They don’t become the centerpiece, just something passing by.
So being non-judgmental as you are mindful is really very important. It’s not a race – there’s no “first place” – but there is a prize.