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How to Accept “What Is”

When I was thirty-four and had graduated with my psychology degree and was doing my internship as a counselor, I was also required to be in therapy. I was referred to a counselor who happened to be a Buddhist teacher as well.

After a few weeks of sessions, he gently pushed me to attend a weekend meditation workshop he was teaching at his counseling center in Los Angeles. He supported me to start meditating at home every morning for ten minutes to help prepare me for the upcoming weekend. It was difficult and my mind rarely settled, but I started to notice significant changes in how I was meeting myself.

Meditation was offering me a safe container to allow whatever I was feeling to pass quickly. I learned that there were three ways to “accept what is” in life.

Accepting “what is” is the root of relieving all suffering, stress, and fear. Having the willingness to accept any pain we may have is how we come to know our happiness. By knowing the source of our tension and why it is there, we open the doorway to knowing ourselves and creating the life we really want.

When we greet whatever is happening with acceptance, we take things less personally, experience more inner balance, and open to the understanding that whatever is happening to us and around us is part of a much bigger whole.

The first opportunity to accept “what is” is to understand that pleasure comes and goes. Because pleasure feels good and brings along a sense of excitement with it, we tend to cling to pleasure and become attached to it.

We desire to keep pleasure in our pocket like a luxury item to use whenever we want. But life isn’t always pleasurable and those yummy feelings don’t always stick around.

When we free our  pleasure and allow it to come and go, we are no longer trapped by the limited desire to grasp. We don’t need to  have pleasure all of the time.

When we detach from the need for constant pleasure, we remain free of suffering.

The second opportunity to accept “what is” is to accept that which we feel aversion for—regardless of how much we don’t like something  or want it to go away.

The opportunity here is to allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable by allowing what we do not like to be exactly what it is. We are called to accept things that we are unable to—change in this particular moment.

Rather than judge what’s happening, we can  allow what we do not like to remain as it is without trying to push it away, control it or make it into something we would prefer more.

This is an invitation to learn to accept the fact that sometimes our existence as humans on this earth includes that which we do not want or like.

The third opportunity to accept “what is” is to accept situations or outcomes towards which we feel indifferent or neutral.

A typical reaction to feeling indifferent or neutral is to become apathetic, deluded, bored, disassociated or simply unaware of what’s happening.

Check in to see if this sense of being “checked out” is a way of denying aversion.

Accepting “what is” brings calmness and peace of mind. We can’t control the uncontrollable no matter how much we may try. In letting go of our attachments to how things should be, we learn to be patient with our own weaknesses as well as others’.

Ask yourself:

  •     Am I clinging to pleasure?
  •     Am I in aversion to someone or something?
  •     Am I indifferent or apathetic?

Realizing that you cannot always change your circumstances or other people’s, ask yourself if you can accept yourself in this situation or circumstance as it is.

It’s really that simple and can make all the difference in your happiness!

Wishing you freedom that comes with power of self-awareness and acceptance!

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Lynn Newman