Acceptance vs. approval

by Alice Dommert
August 20, 2018
Breath, Mindfulness

One of the first things we talk about in our mindfulness programs is what is mindfulness. The definition we most often use is that mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, without judgment.

It’s the last part, without judgment, that I want to touch on today. A few weeks ago I was struggling with a situation. It’s not something new in my life and yet I keep looping back to it and not liking it. It is not a permanent condition but just the way things are right now. Yet, it still causes me discomfort and struggle as I have deemed it unappealing.

I have judged this situation as something undesirable, not what I want. Hmm…how far does this non-judgment thing have to go? I try and be open-minded and flexible. Doesn’t that count?

As I sat in tears again about the situation I realized somewhere deep within I was afraid. The story I was telling myself was that if I accepted what is, I’d be saying “okay, this is fine,” I’d be approving it. If I approved of it, I might even stop having the desire or dream of something else. I’d settle. That is what really scared me.

Somehow I had forgotten the part about accepting it “ in this moment”. In mindfulness we are retraining our attention and the ability to be present, right here, right now. If I was moving to a fear of this being a permanent condition, clearly I had left this moment.

The tricky thing to understand is not that we just accept things and never seek to change. Acceptance “in this moment” keeps the mind clear and does not perpetuate the spinning mind. Accepting allows the calm mind room for insight and clarity about what we might need to do next. How we might respond to the current situation in a way that might actually move it toward what we are wishing for.

A calm mind might uncover that the condition is serving a purpose that we had previously not considered. A calm mind allows a new way to see the situation and previously unrecognized possibilities.

So I begin again. It’s a practice, the instructions so deceiving simple. Sit still, focus on the breath, inhale and exhale. Notice your mind wandering, bring the attention back to the breath. Inhale and exhale. Again and again. Be here, and here, and here, accepting it all just as it is.

Alice Dommert

Alice Dommert

Founder, Wholebeing Architect

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