We’ve heard that voice before, the one that shows up uninvited and lets us know just how inadequate we are. (“Did you really think that idea was any good?” “How could you have been so stupid?” “You call that art? Looks like kindergarten work to me.”) This sounds polite compared with the mind lashing some of we give ourselves. The inner critic is alive and well, always close by to help keep us from moving forward.
Yet in some cases, despite or maybe even because of our critic, we do move forward, overcoming great obstacles to accomplish something significant in our lives. Some people give their inner critic a special name for immediate recognition. Some calls theirs Jezebel (or Jezzy, for short). Jezzy will show up to sabotage a performance, a business deal, or any attempt to have a loving relationship. We’ve known Jezzy for many years and even ask what she has been up to lately. The inner critic may have grown up with us, wearing the face of our mother or father.
Our soul’s purpose is to evolve toward our highest spiritual consciousness. No small order when getting yourself out of bed some mornings can be a major event in your day. Too often we settle for mediocrity because that is what is being fed to us through the media and from our inner critic. You always get what you settle for in life and there is no place better than the yoga mat and meditation cushion to observe how your mind and emotions expand or restrict your actions.
The challenge is to let go of judging yourself. In meditation or when holding a difficult yoga posture the judgmental remarks you make about your body or about the person on the mat next to you are easier to hear if you are paying attention to the moment rather than day dreaming. At that moment you can say to yourself, “Judging,” and most of the time the thought dissolves instantly; other times you might have to say it a few more times before the critic is quiet.
The judgments that we make about ourself have nothing to do with the truth. Those judgments come from our inner critic and are there to block us from reaching our goals. The beauty of life is that it’s a treasure hunt, and finding our true self is the grand prize. To find ourself, we must learn to be awake to each moment. When we sit in meditation with our mind centered and our gaze within, there is no space for judgments and criticism. When we are mindful, there is no room for anything else but total awareness of the moment. And in that moment we are perfect.