Last Monday, I introduced the topic of radical acceptance from Dr. Marsha Linehan's Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Radical acceptance, in her words, is "complete and total. It's when you accept something from the depths of your soul. When you accept in your mind, in your heart, and even with your body... you've radically accepted something, you're not fighting it. It's when you stop fighting reality."* This concept, which has a strong mindfulness component, is becoming useful in working with my chronic worrying and anxiety and resistance to painful things in my life.
Today, I’m going to paraphrase and condense Linehan's description of the three skills to deal better with sometimes-harsh reality: radical acceptance, turning the mind, and willingness. I was thrilled to find actual steps -- nearly a "how to" manual! -- for learning how to accept and surrender to hard reality, a process that has escaped me up till now.
Step 1: Radical Acceptance
Understand that reality is what it is. Accept it. Now, this is precisely the problem. What do you mean "accept it"? That's impossible! The problem is too upsetting, painful, hard, enraging, frightening, or shaming to accept!" The key to this step, however, is asking, "What is the reality that I'm denying? What I am I not accepting for what it is?" Say it aloud plainly without embellishment.
Understand that the problem has a cause. When you accept that everything has a cause, reality is as it should be. That doesn't mean you like it or that it isn't painful. You don't even have to know for sure what caused the problem. Just accept that there was a cause. Practice saying, "Given the causes, everything is as it should be." Then start working with the tension in your body from head to toe, releasing the stress and strain, over and over, as long as it takes, whether that be minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months. Maybe even years. This is something you have to do again and again. Linehan suggests going outside at night, looking at the sky, and saying "yes" several times a night... even if you have tears streaming down your face.
Accept that life is worth living, even if it's sometimes devastating. Accept that you can build a life in the aftermath; otherwise, you won't. Linehan, as well as Buddhist teachers, says, "You can't change something you can't accept. If you don't face things as they are, you can't change them. Then change them.
Step 2: Turning the Mind
Notice that you're not accepting. Make an inner commitment to turn the mind toward acceptance. Do it again. How do you keep radically accepting, over and over? Turn your mind toward acceptance, time and again. You can accept or resist. Keep turning toward acceptance. Take the acceptance fork in the road.
Step 3: Willingness
Though it sounds a little "woo-woo," accept that you are part of a cosmic process and thus should be committed to active participation in it. Allow the world to be the way it is and agree to participate. Otherwise, you're fighting the rules of life. Willingness is about your stance in the world. Play the cards you get as skillfully as you can. If you're willful rather than willing, you forget the nature of life, refusing to be a part of it. That's essentially throwing a tantrum because you're saying no to reality.
When willfulness appears, notice and observe it. Identify and describe it. Radically accept it since it is there. Turn your mind toward acceptance and willingness to meet reality as it is. Try a "willing posture," such as opening your hands, holing them outward from your body, and relaxing. Know that you can survive your emotions, no matter how overwhelming they are. They aren't wrong, but they cause you to suffer when you don't radically accept them. Accept them and have ordinary pain rather than suffering.
Working these steps is about self-care. They're not easy. You have to do them over and over. Start small.
for Mindful Monday
#mindful #monday #findingGod