Many people struggle to be in the moment because they are not acceptingit, they want the moment to be different fromhow it is. Maybe just for today, practice the mindful attitude of ACCEPTANCE and see if you can really embrace what comes your way, without JUDGEMENT of whether it isgood or bad.
Acceptance means perceiving your experience and simply acknowledging it rather than judging it based on the parameters ofgood or bad. For some people, the word ‘acceptance’ is off-putting – replace it with the word ‘acknowledgement,’ if you prefer.
For example, when you feel pain, whether it’s physical, such as a painful shoulder, or mental, such as depression or anxiety, the natural reaction is to try andavoid feeling the pain. This seems very sensible because the sensation of physical or mental pain is unpleasant. You ignore it, distract yourself, for example,perhaps turning to food, recreational drugs or alcohol to suppress the discomfort.
This avoidance may work in the immediate short term, but before long, avoidance fails in the mental and emotional realm.
Have you ever booked a trip to the seaside, theatre or holiday only to find yourself worrying about all the potential things that could go wrong, what if the car breaks down, one of the children are poorly, you forget your tickets or passport, what if you miss a connecting train or flight? Do you then end up making the trip highly stressful because you’ve been so busy trying to control everything and to make sure nothing ‘goes wrong’ that the whole trip becomes nerve-wrackingand negative? You argue with your partner, constantly nag your kids and feel exhausted and completely stressed out!
This is an example of non-acceptance of not being able to live in the present moment. It causes stress and anxiety and even reactive behaviourssuch as aggression and shouting.
When we plan things, our mind automatically creates a ‘model’ of that event/ situation. An idealof how we want it to happen. We tend to then spend a lot of energy,trying to force things to match the model, which our minds have created.
Acceptance is the practice of moving away from the original model that our mind has created and being able to come into the present moment and accept the moment for how it is.
A husband and wife turned up one day to one of my morning meditation classes, the wife had contacted me a few days before and asked if they could come and have a go at meditation, they hadn’t done it before but they wanted to try it out. They actually turned up a few minutes late, when the class had already begun. Therest of the class wassettling in and some were already lying on mats, and some sitting in chairs, they had closed their eyes and were tuning into my voice ready to be guided. I signalledfor the husband and wife to come in, they gently stepped over people and I smiled at them as they took their place in the spare chair. I quietly asked them to make themselves comfortable and close their eyes. Just as they closed the eyes, the husband’s phone rang! His wife opened her eyes and she flung her arms around in a panic and she looked so angry with him, he went red and tried to open his rucksack and find hisphone which seemed to be at the bottom of his bag, all the time his wife was getting even more stressed. I then took the opportunity to remind everyone in the room to tune into all of the sounds that they could hear and to see if they could accept them as part of the reality of the moment, rather than rejecting the sounds.
This is what many of us tend to do, instead of accepting the reality, we resist it which is what causes us stress and the sequence becomes exhausting.
I’m reminded of a client who came to see me for learning mindfulness, he had been signed off from his work due to stress. A few sessions into his course,h e came in for his session and said Katie, I had an epiphany this weekend. I realised that when I’m working in the week I’m just thinking about getting to the weekend so I can be with my wife and child. I imagine myself with my wife and boy, sitting on the carpet enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon, And then, when Sunday comes, and one of us is under the weather, or my child is upset, or the doorbell rings or the phone goes on ringing and I just get more and more moodyas things don’t happen as Iimagined they would, until eventually I end up in the garage working on my bike, resentful that things haven’t turned out how I hoped or expected.
This weekend I realised that I already have everything that I want and need, my wife, my child, the happiness I want is already here, I just need to accept the present moment for what it is so I can enjoy it!
Acceptance turns out to be one of the most helpful attitudes to achievemindfulness.
How to practice acceptance.
• If something doesn’t go the way you thought,see if you can allow and accept things to be as they are
• Use your breathing to help yourselfto be in the present
• Breathe into difficult feelings, breathe into the feeling on the inside, breath and allow it to release as much as it will on the out. Simply breathe
• Remind yourself that thoughts and feelings are like the weather, you can’t control them but they do constantly change
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Katie Brazier is a Mindfulness Expert and has a practice in Leamington Spa where she runs one to one consultations to help her clients to become happier.