The readings for the June Embodied Daoist Book Club, hosted by Dao Shr Suzy, included an essay: The Daoist Discourse on Nature by Dessislava Damyanova

The theme was how to attain a more stable state of equilibrium by reining in wide swings of emotions.

Daoism advocates a lifestyle … described as selfless, simple, authentic, and spontaneous…. Instead of trying to confront problems and conquer nature, we should transform our way of life so we can live in harmony with nature. The utmost person … is not bound by social conventions, has no preferences, and is beyond passing judgment about right and wrong, good and bad. 

As I am recently fond of saying, my new spelling for epiphany is Doh! It occurred to me that I was allowing myself to be judgmental on a regular basis, which was elevating my anxiety level unnecessarily. 

So, I embarked on an exercise to see if I could witness a situation without making a judgment. This exercise consisted of pouring a large glass of iced tea and sitting on my front porch. My front porch is a nice, comfy place, complete with hanging baskets, and there is no reason to be anything except quiet and comfortable, sitting and enjoying the scenery and the occasional passing of a Burlington Northern train. Until now, I was judging just about every car that went by – noting their speed, the volume of their radio, if they were talking on the phone, or the quality and quantity of their tattoos. Each judgment elevated my emotions, and my adrenaline levels and took me out of calmness and into an unnecessary state of agitation.

The plan was to not judge and just relax. Harder than it seems. One thing that helped was realizing that no matter how upset I got at speeders, it wasn’t going to slow them down. All it did was make me upset. To a smaller degree, it mirrored a quote from Buddha:  Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

It took almost an hour of concentrated “not doing,” but eventually, I could sit on my porch and just observe the traffic flow. Just observing. No judging, no labeling, no analyzing. Just observing.

As part of the exercise, I noted what was going on inside me. I was breathing more naturally, I was calmer, and the whole afternoon was much more enjoyable. And surprise, surprise, I could even hear the birds sing.

Now, as king of the non-judgmental universe, I can get to work on becoming a bit more humble.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner) used to say: “It’s always somethin!”