Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
Discussion Group – Class Schedule – Wednesday 2pm – 3:30 pm
All readings from: “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach
- November 12th – Chapter 2
- November 26th – No Class – Thanksgiving
- December 10th – Chapter 3
- December 24th – No Class – Christmas
Meditations – Vispassana from
TWO AWAKENING FROM THE TRANCE: THE PATH OF RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
- Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt—marvelous error!— that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures Antonio Machado, translated by Robert Bly
- The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. Carl Rogers
- Entangled in the trance of unworthiness, we grow accustomed to caging ourselves in with self-judgment and anxiety, with restlessness and dissatisfaction.
- The way out of our cage begins with accepting absolutely everything about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience.
- This is an inner process of accepting our actual, present-moment experience.
- Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance.
- When things are going well, we question whether we deserve it, or fear that now something bad is bound to happen. No sooner do we take a bite of our favorite flavor of ice cream than we start calculating how much more we can eat without feeling too guilty or piling on the pounds.
- Our enjoyment is tainted by anxiety about keeping what we have and our compulsion to reach out and get more.
UNFOLDING THE WINGS OF ACCEPTANCE
- The two parts of genuine acceptance—seeing clearly and holding our experience with compassion—are as interdependent as the two wings of a great bird. Together, they enable us to fly and be free.
- The second wing of Radical Acceptance, compassion, is our capacity to relate in a tender and sympathetic way to what we perceive. Instead of resisting our feelings of fear or grief, we embrace our pain with the kindness of a mother holding her child. Rather than judging or indulging our desire for attention or chocolate or sex, we regard our grasping with gentleness and care.
- The two wings of clear seeing and compassion are inseparable; both are essential in liberating us from the trance. They work together, mutually reinforcing each other.
- Both wings together help us remain in the experience of the moment, just as it is. When we do this, something begins to happen—we feel freer, options open before us, we see with more clarity how we want to proceed.
- The larger view offered by clear comprehension invariably leads us back to our deepest intention. We don’t want to suffer or cause suffering. We might recognize that, more than anything, we want our children to know how much we love them. This longing too is met with clear seeing and kindness.
- The very nature of our awareness is to know what is happening. The very nature of our heart is to care.
FACING THE ANGUISH OF TRANCE
- Instead, without any prelude, he declared in a harsh tone that I had caused my baby’s death by being so professionally ambitious and ego centered. I felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach—the shock of pain twisted my insides. I stood frozen and numb as he continued, telling me in crude language that I had been willing to have sex but did not really want a child. This must be a bad dream. Certainly he had criticized me privately for my life outside the ashram, but never viciously, never with such rage and contempt.
- Through tears, I found my way to a small sanctuary nestled in a circle of Joshua trees. Sitting on the hard, bare floor, I sobbed aloud for hours. How could this have happened? My baby was gone and my teacher had condemned me.
- In anguish and desperation, I reached out as I had many times before to the presence I call the Beloved. This unconditionally loving and wakeful awareness had always been a refuge for me. As I whispered “Beloved” and felt my yearning to belong to this loving awareness, something began to happen. It was subtle at first, just a feeling that I wasn’t so lost and alone.
- In my mind a new voice arose: I want to accept myself completely, even if I am as flawed as my teacher claimed.
- I found myself praying: “May I love and accept myself just as I am.” I began to feel as if I were gently cradling myself. Every wave of life moving through me belonged and was acceptable. Even the voice of fear, the one that told me “something is wrong with me,” was acceptable and could not taint this deep and genuine caring.
THE SUFFERING THAT OPENS US TO RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
- During my childhood my mother had used alcohol to numb her emotional pain. Increasingly anxious and miserable, she found meaning and purpose only in her love for her family. Yet by the time I was sixteen, she could no longer avoid the fact that those of us closest to her were in distress over her drinking.
- The poet Rumi saw clearly the relationship between our wounds and our awakening. He counseled, “Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.” When we look directly at the bandaged place without denying or avoiding it, we become tender toward our human vulnerability. Our attention allows the light of wisdom and compassion to enter.
- In the face of his attack, my habitual defensive strategies crumbled, and I hit bottom. While I was plunged into excruciating pain, it served to reveal the pain of unworthiness I had been living with for years. Fear of being a flawed person lay at the root of my trance, and I had sacrificed many moments over the years in trying to prove my worth.
COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
- Radical Acceptance is not resignation.
- Acceptance can be misconstrued as an excuse for persisting in bad habits: “That’s just the way I am. Take it or leave it.”
- “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
- Radical Acceptance does not mean defining ourselves by our limitations. It is not an excuse for withdrawal.
- Radical Acceptance means bringing a clear, kind attention to our capacities and limitations without giving our fear-based stories the power to shut down our lives.
- Radical Acceptance also means not overlooking another important truth: the endless creativity and possibility that exist in living. By accepting the truth of change, accepting that we don’t know how our life will unfold, we open ourselves to hope so that we can move forward with vitality and will.
- Radical Acceptance is not self-indulgence.
- Radical Acceptance doesn’t mean that each time we feel like having a cigarette, we go ahead and light up. Rather, we bring clear seeing and compassion to the craving and tension we feel when we “have to have another smoke.”
- Radical Acceptance does not make us passive.
- Some of the most revered social activists in the world based their work in Radical Acceptance. Gandhi in India, Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, Nelson Mandela in Africa—all underwent the suffering of imprisonment and faced the powerlessness, loneliness and discomfort of their oppression. With clear comprehension they saw the potential suffering of angry reactivity, and remained mindful of their intention to benefit others.
- Radical Acceptance doesn’t mean accepting a “self.”
- When we say, “I accept myself as I am,” we are not accepting a story about a good or bad self. Rather, we are accepting the immediate mental and sensory experiences we interpret as self. We are seeing the familiar wants and fears, the judging and planning thoughts as a part of the flow of life.
- Radical Acceptance enables us to return to the root or origin of who we are, to the source of our being.
ON THE PATH OF THE BUDDHA: DISCOVERING THE FREEDOM OF RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
- By cultivating an unconditional and accepting presence, we are no longer battling against ourselves, keeping our wild and imperfect self in a cage of judgment and mistrust. Instead, we are discovering the freedom of becoming authentic and fully alive.
- My husband had already become disenchanted with life in the ashram, and together we finally agreed it was time to go.
- The Buddhist mindfulness practices, on the other hand, taught me to simply open and allow the changing stream of experience to move through me. When a harsh self-judgment appeared, I could recognize it simply as a passing thought. It might be a tenacious and regular visitor, but realizing it wasn’t truth was wonderfully liberating.
- The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.
- I realized that any argument I had with life—from a slight self-criticism to the utter anguish of shame—separated me from the love and awareness that are my true home.
- Many times since then, especially when I’ve been caught up in tension or self-judgment, I have stopped and asked myself, “What would it be like if I could accept life—accept this moment—exactly as it is?”
- This “letting be” is the gateway to being filled with wonder and fully alive. As author Storm Jameson puts it: There is only one world, the world pressing against you at this minute. There is only one minute in which you are alive, this minute here and now. The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle.
- We are all capable of learning Radical Acceptance—the two wings of clear recognition and compassionate presence are expressions of who we intrinsically are.
Guided Meditation: The Practice of Vipassana (Mindfulness)
- Take a few very full breaths, and then allow your breath to be natural. Notice where you most easily detect the breath. You might feel it as it flows in and out of your nose; you might feel the touch of the breath around your nostrils or on your upper lip; or perhaps you feel the movement of your chest or the rising and falling of your abdomen. Bring your attention to the sensations of breathing in one of these areas, perhaps wherever you feel them most distinctly.
- The particular sensations, emotions or thoughts that arise when we practice mindfulness are not so important. It is our willingness to become still and pay attention to our experience, whatever it may be, that plants the seeds of Radical Acceptance. With time we develop the capacity to relate to our passing experience, whether in meditation or daily life, with deep clarity and kindness.
Future Classes at West U
These are 3 hour introductory classes to meditation. It is the same class that most of you have attended.
- Thursday May 14th 2015 – 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Any questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copies of the handouts and homework on http://BeingMindful.com