One way to define mindfulness is that it’s about working skilfully with present-moment experience. The skilful bit is about bringing a set of skills and attitudes to your experience. Practising mindfulness is not just about learning the theory; like playing the piano, or riding a bike, it’s all about embodying and refining the skills and attitudes through experience. Acceptance is an important one of these.
We live in an increasingly turbulent world with globalisation, climate change and new technology driving change across the political, economic and cultural landscape, which affects all of us on an individual level. There are also smaller events that are closer to home, from the uncertainty about your job to losing all your edits on a report you’ve been writing or making good progress on the motorway only to get trapped in a three-lane car park for hours. Life does not always go the way we hope. Feelings of frustration, low mood and anxiety can quickly arise. Our mind gets busy with negative thoughts about who’s to blame; we catastrophise; our self-worth takes a dive and our body tenses up with the stress.
In his book, “The Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle provides three useful options for difficult situations: leave it, change it, or accept it totally. There are some situations you can just walk away from and others you can improve by changing something. Then there are situations where neither of these is an option, where you just need to embrace the reality of “what is” and accept it.
Acceptance means consciously allowing things to be as they already are. Although this seems simple and obvious, it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
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