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radical acceptance



image credit… denis darzacq

as i have been working with patients at the hospital and with clients at my other position as well as muddling through my own experiences, i came across a copy of tara branch’s book “radical acceptance”. as i pondered its content, i was knocked hard in the gut with the concept that one always returns to thinking and believing that something is wrong with them. i guess this seems naive to say, but not only do i have this tendency, but it has never occurred to me until now that it might not be normal- otherwise that there might be another way to just “be”. 

understandably, it is at once a relief and very daunting that a process may be able to get me from dark to light with some simple steps. a few of them are listed below in a quote from ms. branch. but the 1st of these is a coping skill named radical acceptance. it goes against my nature, which may be why it seems almost as brilliantly simple like fire or the wheel. 

as i have been savoring this idea, my world-and my work- has been opening up like a birthday gift with lots of paper. the main component of radical acceptance is that resistance equals suffering and pain. check. most of my horrors are shame-based- therefore if i can move to “here’s where i am- better start here” the pain from shame seems to go “poof”.

more on this no doubt, as life continues. radical acceptance may just change my life forever.

“I’ve found that whenever I am really suffering, on some level I am believing and feeling that “something is wrong with me.” Over the years I’ve been drawn to three primary gateways for awakening from this trance. In the Buddhist tradition they are referred to as the three refuges:

One (called “sangha”) is loving relationship-both live contact with loved ones and also meditation on the love that’s in my life. In the moments of remembering love, there is an opening out of the sense of separate self. For me, reflecting on love has included prayer to the beloved, to what I experience as the loving awareness that is my source. When I feel separate and stuck, that loving presence might seem like it’s apart from me and “out there.” But by reaching out in longing and prayer, I’m carried home to the loving presence that is intrinsic to my Being.

A second gateway (“dharma” or truth) is taking refuge in the present moment. The training of meditation is a gift as it has helped me to pause, wake up out of thoughts and contact my moment to moment experience. When I am no longer running away or resisting what is happening inside me, I reconnect with the space and compassion that has room for whatever is going on. 

A third gateway (“buddha” or “buddha nature”) is turning towards awareness itself. Most of the time we are paying attention to the foreground of experience-to our thoughts, feelings and sensations. What we are missing out on is the background of experience, the formless dimension of Being itself. By asking questions like “What is aware right now?” or “What is knowing these sounds?” or “Who am I?” we begin to intuit our own presence or Beingness. The signs of this presence are space, stillness and silence?

…Tara Branch author of Racial Acceptance-Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha.

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