So what is this thing called acceptance?
We were in Swindon, in our car, lost in a network of side roads. After driving round and round, we stopped and asked a man if he could help us find the best road back to Bath.
He looked at the road and rubbed his chin. ‘Bath, eh, hmmmm – and you’re starting from here?’ he asked with a wry smile. Well, yes.
I know – it’s like the old joke that if you want to get to somewhere, there are better places to start from here. And hold that thought for a moment, while we turn to acceptance.
Acceptance – what does it mean to you?
The problem with the term for many people – me included – is that it has come to connote settling. Enduring. Putting up with. Passivity. Even ending. Giving up something that we were working or even fighting for. Compromise. Letting circumstances prescribed by others win the day.
And that’s where many people fall out with Mindfulness, especially if we believe in personal responsibility. However, that’s not what it means at all.
We can only start from where we are and acceptance is just that. If we try to start a journey from where we are not, what happens to map reading, signpost reading, and how crazy will it drive the SatNav?
To be sure, we can describe the situation differently. ‘We’re completely lost’ gives a different set of choices from ‘We can’t be far off; we’ve only been driving for ten minutes’ or somesuch. But better still, we can notice where we are with no judgement at all.
Briefly, acceptance is recognising and ‘being with’ whatever is our experience, including how we are feeling. It does not mean identifying with the situation, or rolling over for it. It doesn’t mean that we are stuck and this is it.
Acceptance means start here
It certainly doesn’t mean giving up responsibility. It means being with the experience or situation, letting you – and it -breathe, and then going from there. Living with it in some circumstances, making changes in others. However it develops, you act from a calm place and deeper, clearer understanding.
In ‘being with’, in acceptance, tension reduces, and that happens in Mindfulness meditation*. Space opens up. You can breathe.
From there, happier, healthier choices can be made. So, far from being the end, acceptance is saying ‘I am here’ and it is the start. A good one at that.
*My one-day course Introducing Mindfulness: learn to meditate and fall in love with life is happening on 17th November. Click on link for details.
See here for a marvellous 3 minute youtube on the topic from the man who has put Mindfulness to terrific use for pain and discomfort. Please note the principles are the same for physical, mental or emotional pain or discomfort, and also for the good things in life – putting out the welcome mat and acknowledging what is. Gladdening the mind and the heart.
The point is that, acceptance is the start.
Happy days and lots of love