Radical acceptance–a bit of commentary and some resources

Susan at A Journey did a post called Accepting Peace. I spent some time thinking about it today as well as tweeting various links that it made me think of and so I thought I’d do a post on it. Acceptance of life just as it is has become my primary spiritual practice so it’s with great pleasure that I’ve come to know Susan who has also lived through a similar psychiatric drug withdrawal journey. She is yet one more light shining on my path towards wholeness.

Susan starts her post with this quote:

When we cannot accept our suffering we cannot accept peace either.

Resisting our trials and struggling against them, holding ourselves closed in resistance, poised for battle

we are blocking the peace that comes when we can open ourselves to and embrace not the pain in itself

but the acceptance of the experience as a life lesson

that has become our teacher. ~ A Zebism

With that in mind here are some resources to learn about how “pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.” That is a quote that has as often irked me as it has inspired me.

The first book I read that got me thinking about this notion of accepting the good and the bad and has influenced me ever since is Radical Acceptance, by Tara Brach. I wrote a post over three years ago on this topic. I’ve grown a lot since then. It doesn’t seem unlikely anymore to transcend discomfort and pain and it is my meditation practice to embrace all of my experience now — that I might accept my reality just as it is. I’ve had deep moments of transcendence doing so, but I do not live in that place beyond suffering yet.

Another piece I’ve posted on this blog that helps me come to this place is Jayme’s article with the unlikely name How I deal with mental breakdowns. It is a deceptively simple and very accessible piece that is in actuality a description of a profound spiritual truth and practice.

Another Buddhist Teacher who has informed my practice and journey is Shinzen Young. He has done much work on pain and how to work with it in meditation. It is most explicitly dealing with physical pain but I find that with this sort of work one can pretty much exchange physical and emotional pain. For the purposes of meditation it’s pretty much all the same. Shinzen Young has a wonderful youtube channel as well with lots of dharma talks on video.

For those of you who are more inclined towards Western Psychotherapy I like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. ACT is mindfulness married to CBT. It’s the only version of CBT that has ever sat well with me because in general CBT strikes me as denying of our experience. It often teaches us our thoughts are bad or wrong. ACT moves beyond that problem that seems so often part of CBT and embraces all. There are many  books and workbooks that are ACT informed that deal with any specific situation you might be dealing with: depression, anxiety, PTSD etc…the idea always remains similar regardless of which mind-state you’re coping with.

Well, that is a very brief beginning. There is much more on this topic out there. I may make this into a tab and resource page and add to it as I come across things. Buddhist teaching and philosophy pretty much has this idea at it’s core. I see it in many things I read now as acceptance of reality has become my path and it seems evident in many people’s teaching regardless of what they call their path and whether they understand it through the lens of a religious philosophy or not.

I just added some great quotes by Nisargadatta in this post.

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