Archive for mindfulness – Page 2

What in the World is Radical Acceptance?

Radical= relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.

Acceptance= the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.

Radical Acceptance means consenting to receive all of ourselves, including those parts of ourselves we have rejected up to now. It is about the willingness to undertake the lives we are living rather than constantly waiting for the lives we think we should have. What is radical about it is to continue widening the circle of what we can accept to include more and more of ourselves. We may feel at first that we can accept this quality, but certainly not that one. Then, as we grow in practice, we come to discover that our acceptance can be more far-reaching, more thorough. The more we bring this quality of acceptance into our lives and ways of thinking, the more it starts to impact the fundamental nature of our relationship with ourselves. We start to move through the world with a sense of deep relaxation into being just exactly who we are. We feel ourselves centered into the core of ourselves rather than leaning out into trying to be some other way. We come home to ourselves, to the bare reality of who we are. When we live from this place, we have greater access to our gifts and our unique place on this earth.

Seeking the Holy Grail of Differentiation: Holding Onto Myself Through the Layers of the Onion

My favorite author on relationships, David Schnarch, speaks about differentiation as a kind of “holy grail” of relationships. He says that the deepest and most lasting form of intimacy is born from ones’ capacity to both hold onto oneself and stay open to another at the same time. Through Shadow Work®,  I know that I live much of my life in the loop between the energies of Lover and Warrior, which are in many ways diametrically opposed. Lover energy wants to stay connected with the other and is willing to sacrifice connection with self in the process. Warrior energy is all about building and maintaining a sense of self and cares little about staying connected with other. I’ve played out this roller coaster ride in many of my relationships- going to one end of the extreme and then compensating with the other.

While I’ve learned a great deal over the years about how to moderate the extremes for a smoother ride, I’ve recently had the opportunity (and the challenge) of seeing how easily I give up my connection to myself when seeking intimacy with others. I often liken personal change to the layers of an onion. When I come back to the same issue again, and start to feel critical of myself for not having transcended a pattern, the onion analogy helps me recognize that I may have circled back to the same issue, but it is at a deeper level this time around.

This recent reflection has inspired me to take the next step in learning what it means to hold onto myself. I’m finding how to use my body as a barometer. When my breathing becomes shallow, I take this as a sign that I am leaving myself to focus on another. I’m discovering the subtle embodied shift that occurs when my attention resides internally rather than going out of myself towards another. And, miraculously, the result is often that I am more available for connection when I am more rooted in myself! When I stay with myself, I also come to know myself more fully. I am more aware of the emotions running under the surface, and more resourced to give them attention and care.  I feel that I’m discovering and integrating aspects of myself that have been blocked from my awareness for some time.

I could share a dozen stories of how I’ve worked with this issue over time. I believe that these kinds of relational patterns become embedded early in life, and it is only through peeling back the layers of the onion one at a time that we come to fully claim what is possible for us. If this story has inspired or intrigued you in some way, you may wish to contact me to explore how these ideas, of differentiation, and of different archetypes, can help you find greater wholeness and aliveness in your own life!

P.S. The book I mentioned above is called Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships by David Schnarch!

Judging Our Judgments

There is a shadow in all our striving to be good: a way a dichotomy is inherently created when we label certain things as good and others as bad. Judging our judgment is a huge place where this shows up. We all judge. It is the very nature of our minds to assess and seek to make sense of our world. And yet the word “judgment” has become laden with negative association. We learn that we should be nonjudgmental. We learn that to judge makes us critical, controlling, maybe even bad or unlovable. And yet this response is, in itself, laden with judgment! “Judgment is bad” is a judgment!

So what is the alternative? Mindful awareness with radical acceptance and openness to uncover our shadows. With mindful awareness we can explore our judgment from a place of curiosity rather than shame. We can uncover the deeper layers of where this judgment originates.  Radical acceptance means embracing the full 360 degrees of our human experience including the fear, anger, sadness, jealousy, shame, hate, despair, joy, power, and so much more that we are. There is such an important difference in being able to explore our inner world from a place of openness instead of striving to get rid of our “bad” parts. When we venture inwards in this way, there is an inner emotional safety. We can be revealed to ourselves without risk of self-shaming. We can allow the parts of ourselves to be seen that are not ready to be gotten rid of.

With this approach, we become more free to recognize the feelings underlying our judgment. Perhaps there is projection onto another of our own disowned or rejected aspects. Perhaps we discover the young places in ourselves that felt they needed to control in order to survive. Maybe we uncover a great fear of closeness and recognize that judgment has been a way of keeping others at arm’s length. With radical acceptance we can give permission for these dynamics within ourselves to exist, without pressure that by doing so we are being bad. Then the invitation is to meet these younger places with our attention, care, and responsiveness, just like the most loving and compassionate parent. I call this Self-Parenting. We can engage an inner dialogue to help these parts of ourselves express their needs and to respond from our mature adult.

There is a great difference between acting out these energies in a way that harms others as opposed to claiming them and attending to their needs internally. When we do the latter, we can allow the judgment (or any other challenging emotion) to burn with all of its intensity. The miraculous part of this is that somehow, when we truly accept and give permission to a difficult aspect of ourselves, it will often relax its hold and show up in our lives with less tension. I see the practice of this in my life as being similar to nesting dolls. In any given moment, I can ask myself where there is a sense of striving to rid myself of something I am experiencing. From this awareness, I invite myself to give permission for that very thing to be there while at the same time allowing the part of myself that wants to be rid of it. A moment later, there may be another layer of resistance towards what I am experiencing. It can be a very beautiful practice to continue uncovering the layers of resistance and bringing permission to each one as it comes into awareness.