Mindfulness Primer: Acceptance

This insight is part 3 of 7 in the series Mindfulness

So the question is: How do I “accept what is” AND “drive change”? Answer: Mindfulness. This series of posts is designed to introduce the key concepts to this paradoxical approach to empowerment. Today’s topic: Acceptance.

As mentioned previously, accepting “what is” can be difficult when we are faced with a challenging or uncomfortable situation. This difficulty is compounded when the situation involves another person as opposed to innocuous activities, so for the purpose of this primer, we are going to maintain focus on acceptance in regard to our activities.

Many activities in our everyday life can carry a sense of burden or hardship. This arises in part because our sense of autonomy is threatened when faced with a “have to” as opposed to a “want to”. That threat interferes with our capacity to experience fulfillment.

When we embody a state of acceptance, we transform situations from a threat to an ally. So how do we do that?

Years ago as I was first trying to swap out my conditioned patterns of resistance with open acceptance, I developed a whole arsenal of tools for aligning with seemingly oppressive situations. I needed a lot of tools at that time, and not every tool worked in every situation. Below I cover the top three strategies I used when I was first learning the art of acceptance.

One simple but powerful tool was simply changing the wording I used: instead of saying “I have to . . . (do the dishes, for example)”, I started saying “I Get to . . . “ That simple switch would change my whole energy. I would open to the situation, align with it, and learn from it. This simple swap was all that was needed to peak my sense of adventure and curiosity, even if all I was doing was the dishes. I know it may sound a bit ridiculous: it still leaves me in disbelief. But every time I engage this tool, I am always surprised that it still holds true as a path to alignment.

Gratitude was another original go-to tactic of mine. When I would become aware of resistance towards a situation, I would course correct by saying something like: “I’m so grateful for this obstacle for showing me more deeply to myself.” Just saying that would help me to relax and align with the situation.

Another powerful tool was surrender. Conceptually, surrender gives the impression of defeat or weakness, but I assure you there is no greater tactic for empowerment than surrendering fully to whatever it is that needs done. I recall one experience where I was cleaning my kitchen, and as I sensed resistance towards the activity, I had the insight to give myself over to it completely.

Part way through I recall feeling a sense of deep sacredness regarding the activity. By the end, it was as if I had cleansed my soul in the process of cleaning my kitchen. I was glowing, and filled with such an incredible sense of aliveness. Irrational: yes. But the lessons that unfolded throughout the rest of that day put it all in a context that actually makes a lot of sense.

You see, the intention I had practiced while cleaning carried over into every other activity. I was responsive and compassionate, and I could see that the intense quality I had brought to cleaning set the stage for intense quality interactions in all areas of my life. I saw how when there is intense quality in this moment, each moment will be one of intense quality, and the resulting life situation can only be one of intense quality and fulfillment.

Acceptance can be easier when we understand that the subtle empowerment woven into acceptance has little to do with the “thing” you are accepting and everything to do with that moment of shifting away from what you are doing and on to how you are doing what you are doing. That shift is the key to enduring fulfillment which develops as we strengthen and lengthen those experiences of acceptance and presence awareness. In this way, what we are ultimately accepting is not the obstacle before us, but our own sacredness.

Tomorrow, we will integrate mindfulness in micro doses throughout our day.

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