Monday, October 16, 2023

Accepting, Forgiving & Embracing

    Acceptance is “being open to seeing & acknowledging things as they are in the present moment; acceptance does not mean passivity or resignation, rather a clearer understanding of the present so one can more effectively respond.” Shapiro SL, Schwartz GE. “Intentional Systemic Mindfulness: An Integrative Model for Self-regulation and Health.” Adv Mind Body Med 2000; 16(2): 128-34.

MANY situations call for our acceptance – now!
    Thoughts & emotions of sadness etc about past events, and fear etc of future imagined events need acceptance now.
    The thought of death – our own & that of our loved ones – though frightening, is best dealt with a friendly, open mind & heart. These existential fears take time to fully accept, but there’s no wise alternative. If we “lean into” (rather than keep avoiding) even the hardest things with curiosity, self-compassion & acceptance, at our own pace & possibly with expert guidance, we benefit greatly in the long run!
    Anger over just having broken something or some other current mistake, needs acceptance now. Our repeated outbursts of anger - held within or vented - actually cause unnecessary suffering. This is completely avoidable by gradually learning to accept that we cannot control the world to keep us consistently safe & happy.
    Each bout of anger = non-acceptance, which we ALSO learn to gently accept, knowing that anger will gradually diminish, replaced gradually by equanimity (imperturbable peacefulness, despite a constantly changing environment).
    Even while participating in a meditation course, there are many things we’re called to gently accept. A great example is feeling the warmth radiating from our heart area!

     The first few times I practiced Loving-Kindness meditation, especially directed towards myself, my heart area felt nothing (remember the wrestler 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin?). That was some twenty-five years ago. Since then, I've practiced & guided others in this profound meditation hundreds of times. Over the years, my chest very easily radiates warmth with little or no coaxing.
    However, like myself originally, I find almost all those taking meditation (MBSR) courses have solidly armored hearts. This armoring process is a natural, background event akin to acquiring calluses - "growing a thick skin" - from prolonged hard manual labor. For us to survive life's many & varied hardships (war, homelessness, poverty, racism, physical / emotional / sexual violence, etc, etc, etc) many of us toughen-up to an extent that even we ourselves are shocked. As an extreme example, what (armoring-up) changes must take place for a soldier to survive a year of combat in a war zone? For civilians, it's not possible to comprehend the extremely difficult de-armoring such soldiers (should ideally) undergo before they could safely re-enter their home & civilian society
    We have millions displaced from their homes due to war, famine & poverty in refugee camps all over the world; millions who've suffered early childhood trauma (ACE studies); and millions who continue to suffer from poverty & racism. A much larger proportion of our population than we realize are heavily-armored. Armoring usually includes a strong aversion to accepting, embracing & gradually shedding one's own armoring! Once armored, we have great difficulty realizing that armor is not only unnecessary now, but that is actually blocks our ability to live a happy, wholesome life
YOU were now told, "You are armored", would you angrily deny it? And how would you interpret that response? OR would you reflect on it, "Well, I suppose I could be" with gentle, relaxed curiosity?

    WHEN repeatedly practicing Loving-Kindness meditation is not able to set the heart free, there is a "Forgiveness Meditation" to help initiate this de-armoring process.
Vimalaraṁsi “Guide to Forgiveness Meditation: An Effective Method to Dissolve the Blocks to Loving-Kindness, and Living Life Fully.” CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.
course consulting a trauma therapist may also be wise.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the
window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the
Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple
breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you
must know sorrow
as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.


"Quiet Reflection" ... by Mollycules

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