I recently attended a mindfulness and acceptance lecture at Kadampa Meditation Center of Florida. This was the first lecture I had attended there. I was intrigued by this topic and interested to see how mindfulness was practiced within different communities. If you’re questioning whether you should step outside your comfort zone and attend a lecture there, I highly recommend it. My initial impression was how much common sense it made to be aware and choose to be positive and engaging in response to our experiences. My next thought, was how much this Buddhist lecture sounded like the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I do with clients regarding negative thoughts.
The similarities were astounding. I listened to ways to practice acceptance, shift thoughts to be more helpful, practice compassion rather than defensiveness and find purpose in challenges. For this post, I will focus primarily on how as a therapist I feel it’s helpful to integrate acceptance and mindfulness into our daily experiences.
The discussion of acceptance really resonated with me. Particularly how acceptance of a situation is not approval of the situation. Here’s what I mean by that. Acceptance is not saying it’s ok that you were wronged or hurt. Acceptance is merely the acknowledgement that it has happened and cannot be undone. Therefore, having anger or frustration towards whatever happened is pointless. Frustration, as a response to something not going well, only further negatively influences our experience. Instead of frustration, we can try to practice more helpful responses to challenges in order to build our patience, compassion and kindness. These qualities nurture more positive emotions and experiences making the current moment transform into something more meaningful.
If all of that is too abstract and a little hard to grasp, consider this example. You have a headache, you become irritable because you have so much to do and can’t stand to be in pain while you’re so busy. Does your increased tension or irritability assist the headache in easing? Heck no! Does it make the headache not be there? Nope! It might even make it worse if your stress level increases. Your acceptance of the headache does not change the fact that it has happened or tell the headache it’s ok to make you uncomfortable. Acceptance merely recognizes that your head hurts. Mindfulness allows you to be aware of your initial irritability and intolerance and then allows you to purposefully shift your thoughts about the headache. Something more helpful might be to recognize why your headache came about. Do you need more water, did you get enough sleep, or should you practice some self care? Next, you can choose to go about your day with the acceptance that your head is uncomfortable and you will have to practice patience until it passes. But your pain does not have to determine your mood. Your response to your headache determines your mood. You may instead choose to recognize how grateful you are for your generally good health, have compassion for those who suffer with chronic pain, and show kindness towards others even in the face of personal discomfort. This challenge of being kind and positive even if you’ve experienced a negative situation is what helps to build more inner strength and resiliency. Rather than reacting with a negative emotion we can respond with a meaningful thought and transform difficulty with patience.
There’s your zen moment of the day. 🙂 Take it with you and see if you can apply it next time you’re challenged with a negative experience.
Check out my next two posts Take a Breath & Kindess is Contagious where I’ll discuss some more of my takeaway lessons from this lecture. I will cover things like how to use our breath to practice mindfulness and how to apply mindfulness to difficult situations.
Lecture attended at Kadampa Meditation Center Florida 8.11.17. Mindfulness for a Busy Life with Gen Demo. https://meditationinsarasota.org/