Cultivating mindfulness requires a little more than just following a set of instructions or guided meditations. In practising mindfulness, you will have to bring your whole being to the process. You can’t just assume a meditative posture and think something will happen or play a tape and think that tape will ‘do something’ for you. The attitude with which you undertake the practise of paying attention and being in the present is crucial.
These attitudes are both needed for practising mindfulness and are in turn cultivated by its practise. Each one relies on and influences the degree to which you are able to develop the others. Working on any one will rapidly lead you to the others.
In a series of small blogs, Urban Mindfulness will discuss the different attitudes that form the pillars mindfulness practise.
6 – Acceptance
You can accept unpleasant experiences or truths without saying that you like them or by saying that you’re happy with them. The neutral observation that is practiced with mindfulness is something completely different from approving or disapproving of them (judging). Acceptance is an active process, embracing the experience, not passively tolerating it.
A good example is physical pain and is something we all have to deal with sooner or later. If pain or discomfort arises in your life or within your meditation practice, it can be valuable to observe and examine the pain without immediately and automatically give in to the urge to make it go away. Accepting the experience of this pain, exploring it and accepting it as a part of this experience. It doesn’t mean you are happy about it nor does it mean you aren’t allowed to choose to do something about it.
Especially with experiences you cannot change or have only limited control over, acceptance changes the quality of your experience by letting go of your resistance to it. This resistance often adds to the suffering of the initial pain. Acceptance is about the active willingness to recognize, experience and acknowledge any experience (painful, uncomfortable or pleasant) such as physical sensations, thoughts and emotions. Just as they are.