Originally uploaded by JenniPenni
I have learned to not question why something or someone appears or is in my path at a particular time ... it is just as it is to be.
Many months ago, a local friend recommended with great fervor that I check out a Buddhist teacher and author -- Tara Brach. Her claim to fame is the book "Radical Acceptance". I was told by this friend that Tara had free podcasts on itunes and that I would likely just love her teachings. I let this go in and out of my consciousness and then, for some odd reason unbeknownst to me, I woke this morning on a mission and after my prayers, I went onto itunes, and downloaded some of her podcasts, listening to her throughout my day's travels.
The timing of all this is exquisite. I would not have been ready to listen to her when my friend first spoke of her. To hear her now is just right for me at this moment in my life. I had to do the work on surrender and letting go these past 2 months or so in order to fully take in her message.
Radical acceptance, according to Tara, is an active, heart-mind presence to the reality of this very moment. It is being with ourselves in relationship to whatever is occurring in this moment, without evaluation or judgment, just the courageous allowance of being with what is. This is not new information, mind you. In my Kabbalistic program, we are taught this as well. What is new for me and why the timing is so perfect, however, is that this feels tangible, attainable, real, and more possible than it ever has to me before. I loved the "idea" of being with "what is". It intrigued me. It sounded like a great thing to do in theory. In practice, on the other hand, it was always just out of reach for me.
It's even wilder that I would be writing as of late about movement toward this very concept of acceptance. I feel like I can "taste" it, I feel my willingness here, my longing and my desire to practice this -- particularly in the throws of some significant unknowns in my life.
Tara goes on to speak about 3 kinds of reflexes which take us out of a place of acceptance or even block acceptance. I absolutely related quite personally to each and every one of these. They are:
Fight; Flight; Freeze.
Fight is exactly how it sounds. In a nutshell, it is resistance to what is. Which I spoke of at length in last night's entry ! I know fight well. Fight involves control and self-will and questioning and even blame.
Flight is also what you might imagine. It is avoidance of what is. I mastered this one. Flight is deflection and distraction and running away from and cutting off. I lived a greater part of my relationship with my ex in this reflex mode because I could not bear for quite a long time to actually look at the reality of what was.
Freeze is a pushing under and "stuffing" what is. It is denial. It is suppression. For me, it was a paralysis and an inability to feel safe enough to let "what is" be felt. Flight and freeze for me went hand-in-hand. Once I would get a "whiff" of a painful reality, then I would quickly run from it or cut it off, while simultaneously squelching it out of my conscious awareness. Drinking served this purpose. And once drinking was no longer an option, then my ego took over.
I am beginning to really grasp the spaciousness and the freedom that is possible in being able to accept reality, for exactly what it is. I realize too that it involves accepting me just as I am and others just as they are -- without the need to change a thing -- so that I can arrive at this place of acceptance. Not even 2 months ago, I learned about the significant role that my "Woe is me" identity served for a big chunk of my life. To have continued to have this be my story would have been in direct conflict with accepting reality as it is. Instead, I would have remained stuck in a place of "Why is this reality happening to me?" It makes me shudder to feel the trappings of this, a virtual self-made prison. Prior to this, I was paralyzed by fear of the unknown, of abandonment. These fears would most definitely block the acceptance of reality as it is. These fears took hostages. Ain't no one gonna be free to experience reality as long as these fears were in command. Reality as is would have been deemed unacceptable.
Radical acceptance does not mean the absence of fear or pain. Instead, it is the courage to be with one's fear, one's pain in the face of reality, of what is. It is to accept that, for example, "I am scared about ______" and still be present to what is here, without resisting, running, or squashing. I can feel the alive quality in this. I can see the beauty in this.
I am not one for New Yr's resolutions, per se. I am, however, going to make it my intention from this point forward, to have the courage to be in the reality of my life, with exactly what is here. And to choose acceptance, moment after moment after moment.