Highest Form of Intelligence: Awareness without Judgement

A Message from Betsy
I recently learned that the average attention span of human beings is 8 seconds. Twenty years ago it was 12 seconds. We’ve lost a whopping 4 seconds (which seems like a lot) thanks to the information age and the constant barrage of content coming at us.
And to put this all in context, the average attention span of goldfish is 9 seconds. Yikes!
What is happening to our ability to stay present? Neuroscientists say our brains are changing and we have become accustomed to variety and the dopamine hit we get with “the next new thing” as we scroll.
As a mother of teens, I constantly feel stressed with how much time they spend on screens. I joke with my kids that it is “sucking the intelligence” out of their brains. And of course, I get lots of eye rolls.
Yoga teaches that the highest form of intelligence is awareness without judgment. The first part of this, awareness, requires us to be present (and perhaps longer than 8 seconds). Luckily, we can train in presence and strengthen this muscle of being purposefully in the moment.
The second part of this is non-judgment. This is allowing things to be as they are without falling into the dualistic trap of right or wrong or the illusion that somehow we can control what is unfolding.
For us to be in our full mental capacity it requires us to show up fully present without a need to manipulate any of it. I have been “attempting” to practice this lately by reminding myself to soften back. Instead of trying to get engaged with my opinion, or my need for control, or my two cents worth, I have been experimenting with literally relaxing back, which to me feels like more awareness in the back of my rib cage. I even practice pulling my gaze back.
The effect of this simple technique has been twofold for me. First, I suddenly feel everything slowing down. It’s as if the speed of life and its tendency to pull me forward has suddenly just notched down. Second, I feel so incredibly present. It’s as if I am able to really listen to the person sitting across from me, as well as listen to what I am feeling inside.
We all need continued practice of awareness without judgment. Come join us in person or online – even just a yoga class without attending to your phone is a blessed break for your brain (and body).
See you on the mat!