It’s rare that we think this moment is the only moment that matters. We're often thinking about what just happened or filtering through our list of to-dos. These are the things that pull us into what Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance, calls the "trance of thinking". It's been really easy to fall into this through a global pandemic. We all have worries and concerns on our minds and hearts weighing us down. It's really difficult to accept reality as it is.
Trance of thinking
At its core, the trance of thinking is the assumption that I’m not right or that something is wrong...that the present moment isn't enough. Fear of failure can plague our thoughts. The idea that I am not enough or not okay keeps us looped into the idea that there is something we must do to be better. As a coping strategy, our bodies may develop addictive behaviors, soothing the feeling or sense of unworthiness. We strive, we accomplish, we prove ourselves, we stay busy so at least we are on our way somewhere. Forgetting who we really are - perfectly imperfect human beings - causes us to suffer.
If you're starting to feel like I'm pulling you into a downward spiral, keep reading; I promise to pull us out. Operating in the trance of unworthiness does cause feelings of shame, regret, judgement, and it can certainly cause suffering. So, how do we challenge it? Although our inner critic may be pulling us to believe the script of the trance of unworthiness, we can develop a loving inner voice that beckons us to believe we are enough and we do enough, With this we can radically accept who we are in any given moment. Tara Brach suggests that we can wake up from the trance of unworthiness and challenge the inner critic through meditation.
Meditation has 2 wings – one of them is mindfulness and one is heartfulness. Mindfulness callus us to awareness and heartfulness calls us to related compassionately and kindly to what we become aware of in a given moment. We can give attention to what is going on right now with me? And what can I do with this? How can I regard this with kindness? These two wings are how we wake up out of being unworthy.
Example: When you feel triggered, PAUSE. The sacred art of pausing is gives you more time and space to access your intelligence and your heart. What is going on when you are feeling triggered? judgmental? afraid? What is the feeling in your body? What is going on and where is it in your body? Recognize and name it. That is the wing of mindfulness - being aware of your experience. The wing of compassion begs us to let it be there. Don’t try to change it or make it go away, just let it be. And say yes to it. Pause, breathe, name it, say yes. And more and more space will slowly open up.
Ask yourself, "can I be with this? Yes." I can radically accept the moment of my experience.
Get in touch with the emotion and say yes to it. Give yourself time and space to experience the NO related to the feeling and YES related to the feeling or sensation of unworthiness. Ultimately, we want to be able to say yes to our inner experience. That is what radical acceptance is about. Part of the practice of radical acceptance is knowing whatever we can’t embrace with love imprisons us. If we are at war with ourselves, we stay locked up like we are in prison.
Cultivating this deep unconditional tenderness is the pre-requisite to change.
Infuse the YES with a profound sense of compassion and watch yourself open up to the present moment. Just try it! The impact saying YES to the moment is powerful!