I got called for and had to report for jury duty last week. At first I dreaded it, fearing the worst. They were selecting people for 4 grand juries, and I was not ready to give up a big chunk of my life. As we waited, they showed us a video detailing the whole jury process start to finish. They stressed over and again that we were there to ensure “Justice for all.”

My name wasn’t called, but I came away thinking about the obvious—It’s the jury’s responsibility to come to a decision about the case, but NOT to pass judgment.

How often we choose to be our own judge, jury, and executioner. It never seems enough to simply discern imperfections and calmly improve them. The inexorable pull to involve our ego overrules our best intentions more often than not.

So in this new year, resolve to lessen your judgment without lessening your discrimination and quest for excellence. Here are some ideas from my upcoming book, Practice Room Meditations for Inspired Performance:

Non-attached Listening to the Performance of Others

What happens when you hear your peers give an amazing performance? Are you able to relax whole-heartedly and enjoy the performance, or do you start feeling uncomfortable, afraid that they are better than you? Or when a peer gives a less-than-stellar performance, do your patterns of judgment kick in to gear?

The meditation is this: the next time you listen to a peer’s performance, bring yourself into your calm center by unobtrusive even-count breathing or simply watching the breath.

Wait to engage your critical ear. If you hear mistakes in their performance, notice the reaction process within yourself. Observe your reaction and let it go. The more energy and attention you give your reaction, the stronger your patterns of judgment become.

Discrimination—different than judgment—is when you can perceive many things without the slightest reaction habit within yourself.

And if you begin to feel yourself threatened by their amazing performance, do yourself a favor and dive into the enjoyment of it without worrying about the competition. Who knows? Perhaps their performance will inspire you in ways you weren’t expecting.

Finally, avoid comparing yourself to others. The less you compare, the more at ease you will become with yourself.

Be the Jury, not the Judge

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