This is something I explore intimately in my own life, especially as I reflect on how I relate with others, OR as I make decisions that impact my life and the lives of others around me. Discernment greatly impacts my parenting decisions, many relationship choices, career decisions, decisions for health, how to manage finances, where to present my energy, and how to spend my time in ways that represent the qualities I value most.
In the English language, discernment and judgment are synonyms. The Latin root of “discernment” means to “separate” or “set apart.” Within a Judeo-Christian context it is the ability to “separate good from evil, truth from falsehood, wisdom from foolishness.”
For many years this perception of discernment led me to not want to make strongly discerning choices about many things. From a young age, I greatly valued the experiences that brought me a sense of togetherness, community, ONENESS WITH ALL THINGS and ALL BEINGS. Being aware of it at the time, I often didn’t speak up when something felt “off” or scary, because I didn’t want to bear the “separateness.” Instead, I often chose to go along with the things that ensured the most harmony in my family and with people I admired. Anyone relate?
Choosing to adapt is a survival mechanism. A story I relate to is the one about a frog being placed in gradually warming water will ultimately be boiled alive. My life has reflected my ability to be like the frog, many times. I was discerning only as far as one could be without upsetting the waters too much. So, over the years, after many boiled moments, I’ve sought to understand what discernment IS, and have found a meaning that resonates for me most through the Sanskrit language (one of the most ancient languages on the planet, and one based on the harmonics of frequencies).
In the Sanskrit language, the word “viveka” translates to mean discernment. Viveka also means seeing and sensing something as it IS. But what IS is only made as clear as can be perceived through the lens of the perceiver, AND that perception can only be made as clear as the lens is kept.
Yogic traditions and many somatic-based, wisdom traditions remind us to purify our mind, our heart and our gut. When ANY one of these centers feels “off,” our ability to experience what IS with empathy, wholeness and truth, completely diminishes. At the same time, it’s helpful to not be too rigid or too loose in how we tend to our own holistic ecology because where anything becomes too tight---things will not flow---and where anything becomes too loose---things fall apart. We ALL play a role in helping each other re-discover these balances. Daily.
As a young teen and artist, I spent many hours painting, drawing, and dabbled in photography as ways to explore my perceptions of the world and express discernment. As a young woman I became an actress and a singer/songwriter with that same purpose.
My poppa was a professional photographer and a filmmaker always seeking to capture moments and valued having very few possessions. My other dad has always had a keen eye for beautiful things and often sought them out, collecting them. Both fathers influenced my lens for how I perceive the world, in very different ways. My discernments also got formed through how they have lived and impacted me.
Recently, I find myself wearing glasses, and as a part of life’s irony…as time and experiences expand my perceptions, my eyes are sometimes “seeing” less. I have observed this also affecting my sense of discernment.
The Sanskrit term, viveka, has offered me a philosophical perception that part of living as a whole BE-ing, includes cleaning any and all lenses I experience life through, regularly, and from many angles.When I don’t, I am not able to see what IS with much clarity. This purifying through daily practices has sincerely become essential for me in every area of my life, AND it is part of what I help my clients establish in their lives too. I have found that our discernments can help act as kriyas (Sanskrit term for cleansing tools).
Discernment helps define the yoga---the relationship---that informs all relationships we have, inside and out.
May this serve you.