This week I’ve been looking into mindful acceptance
In a nutshell, this is accepting how things are. I reckon it’s one of the trickiest mindfulness concepts to grasp. None of us wants to feel pain (mental or physical) or to feel uncomfortable. But life isn’t all roses and marshmallows. There will always be ups and downs; that’s just how life is.
What I believe this point is about, is learning to be open to all experiences without judging them. Too often, when something overwhelms us, our defences go up to protect us and help us avoid the discomfort. Or we make effort to avoid something.
I’m very good at avoiding things. Like ignoring the boys arguing and fighting as I just don’t have the energy or inclination to be referee. Then berating myself for not having intervened earlier when Tiddler gets bashed on the head with a toy or for getting angry at Boo for doing the bashing.
Trying to accept uncomfortable feelings or thoughts is difficult. But by refusing to accept things as they are and avoiding them, we cause ourselves unnecessary suffering.
I came across a tale in Patrizia Collard’s book, ‘The little book of mindfulness’, – Buddha’s story of two arrows, which sums this point up nicely:
Life often shoots an arrow at you and wounds you. However, by not accepting what has happened, by worrying about it, by saying it is unfair and wondering how long the pain will last, we tend to shoot a second arrow into the open wound and increase and prolong the pain. Pain is often a given, but suffering is optional.
Acceptance of difficult days
Last week I went through the full-range of emotions and feelings. I was on my own for 36-hours, looking after the boys, which was exhausting. I was tired, fed-up but also proud of myself keeping it together and being calm until the second night when I lost my temper when the boys were just running riot and my patience-tank was empty. But hey, 24 hours of sort-of calm isn’t too bad in my book.
I was also proud of myself for still taking Tiddler swimming. Even though I was tired and I knew the water would be flipping freezing. I knew that I’d want to avoid getting cold in the changing rooms and it’s always a faff trying to get Tiddler and myself dried quickly. But Tiddler loves floating around in the pool and I couldn’t miss out on hearing his happy giggles as he played ‘chase’, stretching his arms out to catch the squirty fish toys. I just grit my teeth and accepted it was going to be a busy day and would be on the go until the boys went to bed.
Accepting the fact that it was going to be a difficult day (or two) didn’t physically make the day any easier but it prevented me from feeling irritated about it. Almost as if my mind subconsciously said ‘oh. It’s tricky today and pretty exhausting isn’t it?’ then just getting on with it. Before I became mindful my mind might have said something like ‘aarrgh, this is so unfair. I’m so busy. I’ve been on my own for 24 hours. When do I get a break?’ My thoughts might have spiralled until I’d made myself irritated and less able to cope.
So if you’re having a busy or difficult day, think about accepting that this is how it is.
Think about the tale of two arrows. Don’t get shot twice and make your day worse.
That’s mindful acceptance.
I hope that made sense. Acceptance is a tricky concept, but one worth thinking about in my book!
How have you been mindful today?