Discernment definition from Merriam-Webster: “The quality of being able to grasp or comprehend what is obscure”. In Sanskrit discernment is referred to as “Viveka” which translates as “wisdom” or “right judgement”.
Discernment may be considered as being able to grasp what is obscure because it is often not based on evidence that is available through the physical senses but rather through our intuitive sense which is subtle.
Sometimes on the spiritual path there can be a view that having preferences isn’t spiritual and loving. However, discernment is different to judgement as judgement may be thought of as evaluating someone or something based on the learned belief system of our lower mind whilst discernment might be thought of as having an opinion about someone or something from the perspective of the source part of ourselves or our higher mind. Therefore, it may be said that whilst judgement doesn’t normally serve us, discernment is usually of value as it enables us to see what is real or what is the truth. Having discernment can also be very useful as it helps us to discern what decisions and actions will bring joy and fulfilment and lead us forward on our journey to greater connection.
How to Discern
As being able to discern comes from the higher part of our mind in order to have access to it, it is necessary to be in alignment with that part of the mind. Therefore techniques that assist us in coming into greater alignment help us to have more discernment.
A key way to tell whether a particular view is a result of us judging or discerning is by how it feels as judgement often has an accompanying feeling of negative emotion whilst with discernment there is usually a calmness.
Meditation increases our discernment as it quietens our mind which in turn connects us to the source part of ourselves. Furthermore, it is often actually during the time of meditation that we receive guidance or clarity about particular things.
Focusing on the positive qualities of a person or situation can also lead to us being able to discern what is for the highest good. This might sound counterintuitive as we might think that if we’re only focused on the positive qualities that we’d have a positively biased view however by doing this it takes us to the place of connecting with source which has complete knowing and then we can receive that knowing. Focusing on the positive qualities of a person or situation also helps us to be able to discern as it enables us to be more at peace and equanimous and then from this more calm state of mind we are more able to feel our guidance.
Asking for guidance about a particular situation can also assist with increasing our discernment. This works as stating our desire more clearly leads to increased focus and increases our expectation of receiving an answer or knowing about something which then leads to us being more open to receiving that guidance. For example we could write a request to the Universe such as “Please allow me to know how my true self sees x”.
Finally, being clearly aligned with the end goal or feeling that we want can facilitate discernment. This works as it connects us with who we’ve expanded to become energetically and then in this more connected state we have greater access to our guidance.