Friday, October 01, 2010

What Is Acceptance in Spiritual Practice?

One of four healing prescriptions from the Path of the Sacred Feminine

It is as easy to think of acceptance in Spiritual Practice as resignation as it is to consider surrender as giving up, particularly if we are facing challenging times. It’s that place we go to when we are thinking, “Well, I guess this is just the way it is going to be. I’d better get used to it and accept it.” What we are really saying in those moments is, “I don’t like what is happening one bit and since there seems to be nothing I can do about it I might as well put up with it and hope for the best.”

But acceptance isn’t about resignation. It is really about acknowledging what is true, and truth usually lies beneath our disappointments or fears. If you approach acceptance from the perspective of resignation, you will very likely miss the gift that acceptance has to offer. Be willing to become more aware of what is true and acceptance becomes sweet relief.

Today I was on the phone with a friend whose mother is slowly getting ready to make her transition to the other side of the veil. Her mother has been ill for a long, long time and tending to her needs has been extremely demanding on my friend. At one point in our conversation I suggested that her mother’s passing would be extremely difficult because my friend would miss her so much, and it would also be very easy, because her mother would finally be out of pain and my friend would be able to focus on her own life again.

In the silence that passed between us for a moment, we both felt the peace this observation evoked. What my friend had accepted was the truth of the difficulty and ease in her life that her mother’s passing would create. Rather than nobly denying that it would make her life easier, she admitted it, effectively short-circuiting any need to feel guilty or ashamed about what was true.

When something is true, the fearful dramas of our minds and emotions disappear. The regrets, guilt and resentments simply have no place to exist and all that remains is peace. That is the gift of acceptance. The minute we accept what is true, especially when we are ashamed of it, embarrassed by it, or afraid of it, we acknowledge the challenging drama we feel trapped in, and simply in recognizing it honestly, it ceases to have any more influence over our thoughts and feelings.

Acceptance is resting in the truth of who we are and what we are honestly experiencing, without embellishment or qualifications. In acceptance, we acknowledge that we are the captains of our own ships. Whatever we are experiencing we have chosen at some level and we are willing to compassionately be present with that awareness. We can wrestle with that awareness, and get angry with ourselves for the choices we have made if we want to or we can simply admit that this is where we are at the moment. We did the best we could and here we are.

By accepting what we are experiencing in this moment honestly, the full and compassionate acknowledgment of what is happening in this moment is enough for the tumultuous feelings to find their rest. And all that is left is peace.

During our October Women's Retreat, we will be exploring these 4 Prescriptions, including Acceptance, through journeying songs, meditations, dreams and discussions. If you are interested in learning more about the retreat, please visit: