Cleaning up Judgment with Breathwork
How our judgments can inform our next steps for personal growth
Judgment came barreling towards me in my relationship—luckily, I had Breathwork to help me process it.
My partner and I had designed cards with 36 questions to initiate meaningful conversations at Burning Man. A few weeks before going, we went camping to try out the cards.
We were sitting in the Malibu mountains. The sun was setting. A hazy light was shining on the picnic table. We were cozied up with our questions and breezing through fun ones like “What do you put in your burrito?” and “What relationships are you most energized by?”
Then he asked me number #21, a question I’d flippantly written just days before. I quietly chastised myself: “Why did I include this?”
The question was:
“Who do you judge the most right now?”
My heart rate increased.
His gaze focused.
I was thinking, “George, this is a chance to be honest or a chance to run. You could just say a celebrity?” The competing voice jumped in, “What kind of relationship are you trying to build here, George? An honest one!?”
I settled in, took a deep breath, and chose honesty.
Thud. Alright, this had been a cute camping trip! It’s time to pack up, everybody.
Luckily, I’m dating a conscious, thoughtful, and secure man (who also has a really cute pup that wiggled at our feet to diffuse the tension in this moment).
Now, it was my turn to gather the sentences to justify my answer. Luckily, I had been practicing Breathwork for the last two months, which had allowed me to dive deep into the roots of these judgments.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork is an active breathing meditation that uses a repetitive breath pattern to flush the body with oxygen. This breathing pattern allows you to drop into an altered state and clear stuck energy in the body. Participants commonly express experiencing a release (both emotional and physical) and heightened clarity and focus after a session.
In the previous months, I had started to list the judgments I was making daily, inspired by Gabrielle Bernstein’s book Judgment Detox (which ironically I had borrowed from my partner’s shelf). I realized these judgments were getting in my way, but I couldn’t help but experience them. It felt good (and kind of fun) to judge. By listing them, I realized that instead of protecting me, they held me back, especially in my relationships and work.
To explore the root cause of these judgments, I turned to Breathwork. I started by setting an intention for a judgment I wanted to deconstruct and began the Breathwork. After deconstructing multiple judgments this way, I landed on a process.
Let’s be clear—this process didn’t fit into a nice table the first time I did it. It included a bunch of ugly crying, confusing memories, self-judgment, physical sensations, and sloppy writing. It was scary to acknowledge what a judgy person I can be, but the combination of writing, meditation and Breathwork proved to be a powerful triad for shedding these judgments.
There are many frameworks for processing judgment and yours may look different, but feel free to try mine:
Breathwork Judgment Journey
Journal and meditate steps 1-4
Do 15-30 minutes of breathwork after setting an intention
"I am ready to detach judgment"
"I have judged ________ for ________"
"This judged ________ for ________"
"This judgment no longer serves me"
Complete steps 5 and 6
Pro Tip: Copy and paste this table into the notes on your phone or a blank document. Commit to trying it this week.
Our judgments are our in-roads for self-work.
Breathwork showed me I was judging my partner for things I wanted myself. I was judging him for living a life he had worked hard to create. His example activated my own insecurities and brought up experiences I wasn’t consciously processing.
Breathwork offered the chance to walk bravely towards my core wound of feeling “not good enough.” Through regular Breathwork, I was able to disconnect from this limiting belief. By getting clear on the judgment, processing related feelings, and beginning to release the judgment, I started to heal. The insecurities that sprung from these wounds lost their power. Their ability to release unwieldy emotions on me when I saw my partner working hard stopped.
I took all the time I got back from sitting in judgment and realized I was ready for the next step in my career. I started a Breathwork practice. Now, when my inner critic starts up, I have the most powerful tool I’ve found so far: 30 minutes of Breathwork. I leave feeling clear, creative, and ready to share this practice with others.
Cheers to Breathwork and starting your own judgment journey. There’s a whole lot of freedom on the other side of those judgments.