I’ve recently been doing daily guided meditations on acceptance. The soft caressing voice of the gentleman flowing out of my phone. I sit straight-backed, feet flat on the floor, hands flat on my lap. With eyes open, I am told to take a few deep breaths to settle. My view is a strip of green grass that evolves perfectly to a field of feathery golden barley. Casting my eyes beyond the grain waves I can follow the valley to a thriving apple orchard, squares of corn and alfalfa, and then the ridge defining the top of the western edge of the escarpment. There it meets the sky. There is where sunsets happen.
After taking in the view and slowing my breath I am told to close my eyes. That’s usually when the monkey brain starts for me. No longer focusing on the tapestry before me I go into my brain clutter. It’s typically current material. It’s a rush of undones and dones by people in my bubble. It’s a rampant mind judging and resenting. Silently and subtly.
The gift of guided meditation for me is that I get pulled out of my typical obsessive thought patterns. I am brought to the present moment with a simple question. Who or what are you resisting? I am reminded to keep the question in the third person. Asking it that way gives space within to listen for the answer. It takes the pressure off of me to answer the question right away. Rather I can sit, watch my breath enter my nose, flow down into my lungs and diaphragm, and then release back up and out.
At this point, I am encouraged to focus on my breathing, count each in and out breath and when I get to ten, start over again at one. It sounds so simple. And it’s not. I want to go back and be the judge. It helps rationalize my feelings. His voice quietly repeats the question. Who or what are you resisting. How would it be for the people in your life if you practiced acceptance?
As I continue the daily guided meditations I am spending less time with the judge and more time pondering the question of resistance. Sometimes I hear the answer. It’s so simple. I am resisting people being who they are. I am resisting what they are doing. I am resisting what they’re not doing. With gavel raised, my thoughts bring it down with a conclusive dismissal. They are being lazy, insensitive, self centred, controlling.
Years ago I worked with a therapist around my relationship with my mother. I was plagued with resentment and rage over who she was, how she was, and how she had been as a mother, wife, and friend. As I watched her spiral into dementia I couldn’t access compassion. Only the thought that she might be blessed with the abyss of no memory, no shame, no regret. She didn’t deserve an easy way out.
As we talked about my mother’s childhood, her mother and her marriage I felt a subtle shift in my anger. As I faced my inner judge and jury I realized they weren’t taking into account the circumstances of her life. And I faced another provocative question. What if she was doing the best that she could? Under the circumstances. With what she had to give.
Resentment and resistance live together within me. When I let go of one, the other goes with it. And what I find beneath is acceptance. When I accepted that my mother did the best she could, I accepted who she was. All of her. The anger faded, the compassion emerged. That was a gift for both of us.
When I stop resisting what people do or don’t do, say or don’t say, my mind opens to who they are. Really. Not who I want them to be. No judge, no gavel. We’re all just doing the best we can. At this moment, with what is available, within and around us. That’s acceptance.
At least, that has been my experience.