Radical Acceptance: Can you do it?

No matter how healthy or wise or successful you become, you will never be immune to crappy things happening. You will get cut-off on the highway, have to deal with an inept co-worker, cope with illness, deal with grief, and have bad days. This is life. When you sign up for the good, you also have to deal with the less desirable. And in our lifetime, we will probably still see horror in the world. Maybe you have even experienced some of that horror personally.

Here is the deal: We have to accept this as is for right now. If you have experienced something in the past, there is no way possible that we can erase that. We also cannot solve the world problems over night. And there are times when dealing with a toxic relationship will feel as big as a world problem. It is when we are able to accept it as is, that we can actually move past it. We do not fall victim to it. We do not get wrapped up in the ‘why’ behind it. We say, “This is the problem at hand, and this is how we deal with it.”

I utilize the word radical because for many acceptance is such a struggle and with deep struggles we have to take drastic measures. We have to dive right in and get the work done with urgency. If we don’t then we can get so caught up in all of the negative emotions that drown us. But when we can put the emotions, thoughts, and worries aside, we can see that the situation is more manageable.

You might hate your job, wish to be in a relationship, wish to be out of a relationship, buried in debt, or faced with any of life’s struggles, However, you will not be able to change your position if you are unable to accept where you are, check in with yourself (remember the trust we talked about) and then make the best decision for you.

Can We Practice Non-Striving in a Go-Getter Society?

When we talk about mindfulness, there is a lot of talk about just being. Being in the moment. Not forcing anything. No push or pull of yourself- your thoughts, your emotions, or your body. A principle of non-striving.

Whoa! Non-striving? Well, anyone who isn’t striving surely will never compete in this fast-paced, go-getter society. They will squander. They will fail. Or will they? I am as guilty of a “what’s next” mentality as anyone (see my post on Patience). However, the non-striving mentality is what allows us to clear the mental rubbish and excel!

Mindfulness does not assume that you shouldn’t have goals. That you shouldn’t do better, try harder, or serve more. Principles of non-striving are to assume that we do not force any outcome and that we are able to flow with the process. As a therapist, I learned an important lesson when I placed my expectations on my clients as to where I thought that they should be in the process. I was pushing for a different outcome, striving for something that was not mine to strive for. I also see this happen with individuals who are creating a mindfulness practice. They are striving for an end result, seeking relaxation or enlightenment. What do you see as possible outcomes for these scenarios? A struggle between me and my client and a lack of relaxation. Ever become more anxious when you are having a restless sleep and the end result is less sleep and more anxiety? Yup! This is what I am talking about. When we can clear out our expectations of ourselves to achieve, then we can also take away the punishment that we put ourself through. When we stop that punishment, we can objectively see what kept us from achieving and move forward.

Not only can we practice non-striving in this go-getter society, but we will get there faster if we do!

Listen, Learn, and Trust

Trusting your intuition is one of life’s greatest skills. You are the expert of you. I, for instance, may have expertise in diet, exercise, behavior modification, mindfulness-based stress reduction, but I am not the expert of you.

Trust is the ability to give complete faith in yourself that you are knowledgable, capable, and good. It is the ability to operate by your value system, to do your best, and to forgive fallacy. It is yet another principle of mindfulness. To be fully connected to yourself, present with yourself, aware, so that you can do your best and thus, trust that you did.

Trust & Mindfulness

  • Trust your intuition
  • Trust the process
  • Trust your loved ones
  • Trust your body
  • Trust your mind
  • Trust your emotions

Approach with a Beginner’s Mind

You know that feeling when you are pleasantly surprised? It might be when you return to a restaurant for an incredible meal after your first experience was a bust, maybe when you slugged into the gym and had the best workout in months, or the all-too-familiar scenario when one partner anticipates that the other hasn’t unloaded the dishwasher, yet again, walks in with a stink face but is greeted by a clean sink.  Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? Can you foresee how some of our predetermined assumptions could have negatively impacted the outcome of our event. We quite possible could have missed out on something great or started something terrible because of our forlorn conclusions.

I remember the struggles that I experienced with this when I was actively practicing hot yoga. For anyone that has not taken a Bickram hot yoga class, I will preface with each class is more or less the same. You are taken through a similar series of poses while sweating your butt off. I would go to the class and have expectations about what was next and how I should “perform” it. I found myself more critical and frustrated with myself when I would have “off” days. I would tell myself that it was the same routine and that I should be constantly getting better, rather than cheerleading myself for being present, increasing my flexibility, strength, and stamina, or allowing myself the time for practice.

Approaching each situation with a Beginner’s Mind is another mindful principal. You are able to approach each situation with intrigue and without the wherewithal to prejudge. You open yourself up to new possibilities- possibilities that we can either enjoy or learn from. It’s almost like approaching each event like a child- curious, without judgment, open to possibility.

Next time you find yourself approaching a situation that you would typically find less than desirable, try reproaching with a Beginner’s Mind.

** For more information like this, please check out the upcoming workshop, Mindfulness in Daily Living, as well as aLeader coming soon.

Patience: My Self-admitted Biggest Weakness

I read once that patience was a form of wisdom. And then I became impatient with myself for not being more wise, not having more patience. When I began graduate school, I wanted to know everything about counseling. I have become frustrated with myself at the gym or in yoga when my performance wasn’t at a standard that I had set for myself.

I realized my lack of patience some years ago and have been trying hard to grow, but still struggle. My struggle with patience is not so much with the crying child, inefficient bank teller, or the person that cuts me off in the road. Oh, no. My patience is usually with myself and the eagerness for all of my cosmos to aline. It is for the grandiose to be achieved. And achieved NOW! Once I have set my sights on something, I must have it. Tolerating the process can be very uncomfortable to me. 

Practicing patience- patience with the crying child, patience with our learning curves, and patience with our emotions- will lead us to a greater sense of well-being. It is a lesson in Mindfulness. Reflect on your own areas of impatience. Can you see where impatience may interfere with the quality of your relationships? What about with your own aspirations? I think that when many of us think of someone that we admire, someone with wisdom and leadership, we notice their poise and ability to be patient. They are patient with individuals and patient with the process.

How would practicing this skill decrease stress, tension, and subsequent negative emotions in your life?

On Being Less Judgmental: A Pillar of Mindfulness

How are your judgments interfering with your relationship with yourself and others? Our judgments and our misunderstanding of what judgments are, is what can cause deep human suffering.

Judgement. This might be the #1 obstacle in building healthy relationships with ourselves and with others. We give a value to everything we see, label and categorize it as Good/Bad, Right/Wrong, Moral/Amoral, Black/White. Take a minute. How many issues in your life are causing you distress because of your personal assessment of Good vs Bad or Right vs Wrong? If it is not a fact, it is a judgement, an assessment, or an assumption.

How do we change this so that it doesn’t have a negative impact on having healthy relationships and loving ourselves? Mindfulness. We cannot change any behavior or thought until we are aware of it. Begin taking note of your judgments. Just notice them. Don’t push them away. Don’t follow them down the rabbit hole. Simply identify that that thought was a judgment and potentially causing distress. Don’t judge your judging.

In this moment of practice non-judgement is where we can see the situation as is, without suffering, without a negative meaning. It is here that you can give your own meaning. It is here where you can be your true self and one to admire.

A Look at What’s to Come

The end of a year is always a bit nostalgic for people. We usually reflect on the past and see what we didn’t like and look toward the future vowing to make it better. I have had a number of clients tell me recently that 2012 is my year. I would like to encourage a great mindful reflection that I heard in a recent yoga class. The instructor said, “Ask yourself what is good about this moment, and then ask yourself, ‘How can I make it better.'”

Using that principle, I think that one of the best things about 2011, (this year, this moment) was the Wellness Challenge. It was my favorite opportunity to host a complete holistic program on well-being and watch the participants flourish. When I ask how I can make 2012 better, I am thrilled to bring more workshops and programs to you!

2012 starts with not one, but two different Wellness Challenges. There will be a Monday Evening Program, as well as a Wednesday morning option. The Wellness Challenge is filled with goals on achieving and maintaining a total well being, including sleep, diet, exercise, meal planning, mindfulness, healthy communication, and much more. Each week we discuss a new topic, send you away with new goals, and help you with balanced living.  There is great camaraderie, inspiration, and motivation. We face the struggles that will come and move forward! And what would a challenge be without a prize!

The second workshop is Mindfulness in Daily Living. Words cannot express how excited I am for this program. People are always asking me more about mindfulness and I am thrilled to demonstrate how to be more present in your everyday life. This is a six week program on Thursday evenings discussing Mindfulness in diet and exercise, with your work, in your relationships and much more.

Third, we have the Weight loss Challenge (I love a good challenge). For those that need more information on diet and nutrition, or struggle on how to filter all of the info out there, this one is for you! We are going to go into great detail about protein, fiber, carbs, fats, eating out, staying hydrated, planning balanced meals and much, much more. The Weight Loss Challenge is strategically offered on your Friday lunch break, right when we are about to give into to weekend indulgences. We’ll do weight and measurement check-ins each week and the biggest percentage of weight loss, wins a cash pot!

And, last, I am very excited to be partnering with someone who is not only extremely educated on this topic, but who has become a great friend, Brian Foreman. Brian and I will be hosting a one-day professional leadership workshop, aLeader in early February. aLeader is all about becoming an authentic, affirming, accountable, accepting leader in your personal and professional life. Brian and I are very excited to share a number of blog posts with you over the next eight weeks about leadership. We can’t wait to have you check it out.

You can find more information on all of the programs here.