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By Justine Buckley
This month I'm having fun doing an online course with Gregg and Linda Krech of the Todo Institute (www.todoinstitute.org) called "A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness". Gregg talks in one video about about four different places on the path of acceptance.
Rejection Tolerance Acceptance Embracing
It's the last one, embracing, I want to draw your attention to today. The first three are pretty self evident. Rejecting current experience or the current facts of our life is to resist 'what is' (it could be a person, an event in our lives, something in our own behaviour or even, as Gregg talks about, a bowl of soup). When resisting 'what is', speaking from experience, there's a lot of emotional charge. Personally I look like an immature 8 year old when in full resistance mode; tears, an angry tantrum, disappointment, becoming bossy, or withdrawing into a mighty sulk. All that charge and energy trying to control life because I'm wanting things to be the way I want to them to be and not accepting what's actually happening.
Tolerance, which is different to acceptance, Gregg describes as 'putting up with something even though we may still be deeply disturbed by it... often it is where we've achieved a certain level of discipline over our outward conduct even though inwardly we're still disturbed or agitated. Tolerance is where we've settled into a place where we can coexist with whatever it is". Acceptance is a big term. Gregg says for him it generally means "an issue or problem has simply lost its energy. It doesn't necessarily mean that I like what is going on but that I'm able to look at the situation squarely and accept it without offering any resistance at that moment".
The possibility of going past acceptance, Gregg calls embracing, saying "not only is the energy of resistance absent but there's a positive energy of attraction or... leaning into the encounter". Learning to skillfully embrace what we encounter is something we talk about and teach here at Mudita. If any of you have worked with me you'll be familiar with this concept and for those of you who have attended Doko's courses or been on a Mudita Retreat and heard him teach you'll know his seed meditation sequence. After recognition and acceptance and staying with what has skillfully been invited into our awareness we then embrace the seed with a new chosen quality. This is giving something new to the situation or emotion (seed) such as gratitude, understanding, empathy, a smile, an apology, patience, or forgiveness for example.
Today, try going beyond acceptance a little. Start small. Gregg Krech used a bowl of soup he didn't like as an example. And I'm talking about a practice, not describing a mental exercise here. Leaning in to this present moment encounter means wholeheartedly collecting ourselves and showing up in this present moment with as few ideas and theories about stuff that we can muster. Most importantly it is bringing something to the moment; our curiosity, positivity, willingness to care, openness, receptivity and a not-so-tightly held sense of "I". Give yourself wholeheartedly over to a bowl of soup you don't like and you may actually taste each spoonful in a different way. Try it and you might find the joy and ease that is available when we're not merely tolerating or only accepting what life throws our way.