Radical Acceptance

handmade greeting cards, collage artI knew I’d come to the right place when my new therapist went to her stuffed bookshelf and pulled down When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.

“That’s one of my favorite books,” I told her, craning my neck to see what other jewels she had.

Unphased, she rifled through a few more.  “Then, you’ll like this one, I think,” she said.

I stuffed it in my bag and forgot about it in the wake of bronchitis and $500 spend on medicines that didn’t help much.  Yesterday, I decided I was done being sick—not physically, I’m a long way from well, but mentally.  I threw my book bag over my shoulder, took a slow stroll over the railroad yard to the Starbucks at HyVee, and settled into a cafe booth to journal.  And I found the book Megan loaned me.  Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach.

By the end of Chapter 2, I had to close my eyes and sit quietly while all the doors inside opened.

I could see how my fear of repeating last year (bronchitis—depression—hospitalization) pushed me into going to the doctor and obscured what I knew to be true.  Medicine has never helped me recover from my chronic respiratory infections and only drains my resources.  But Fear drowned out that quiet voice, the one that understands it just takes time, patience and healthy practices to get well.

radicalRadical Acceptance talks about waking up from the trance of unworthiness and accepting all our immediate experience offers.  From that perspective, I could see how I might work with my fear differently next time.  There’s nothing new in this approach—it’s as old as Buddhism—but coming face-to-face with the perfect example always slams home the Teaching.

To simply see that fear is in play is the first and hardest hurdle.  It acts as an underground driver, pushing, directing, demanding action.  So to be able to wake up in that agitation and See what stirs it takes practice.  Then, the task is to observe the fear, hold it gently, watch the stories it generates, feel the push and pull, and listen carefully to the quiet voice on the other side of it.  That quiet voice is my own Wisdom, something I don’t trust anymore, something that got lost in the sea of delusion my bipolar disorder created.  But, in accepting my fear I begin to Remember.  I remember that I do have a wiser self that isn’t delusional or lying.  I’ve ignored it a long time.  I’m out of practice finding it.

I sat in my booth and listened.  This wise part of me is so quiet, so gentle.  It offers suggestions that are kind and sensible, not the wild plans of my delusions.

I smiled, grateful for the doors opening, grateful for a new way to Practice, grateful for finding my new therapist and her glorious bookshelf.

I have enough.

I am enough.

All will be well.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn McCullough
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 08:28:34

    Gosh, this is a beautiful post, Sandy. I love especially the image of your sitting quietly while all the doors inside flung open–or something like that. How exquisite. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book. Sounds like one I’d appreciate/need, as well.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    Reply

  2. TamrahJo
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 09:03:43

    How wonderful! I often chafe against the societal mentality that is short on support, chicken soup and some days of rest and is eager to push, push, push for doctor’s visits, taking action, fighting the fight when all you really want to do is scream, “Medic! Can I take a break from the playing field for awhile, please?!?”

    Therefore, I submit is not always just our own fears but the deep-seated mores of our culture that lead us down a path of frantically doing, instead of restfully being….

    😀

    Reply

  3. emuse
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 11:04:34

    I have found that the perfect book does come when we’re ready for it. I’m going to go look for this (and more about Tara Branch …. I know about her, but not lots) and see if this is one of those for me.

    I’m very glad this book has helped fling open doors. That is a wonderful metaphor.

    Reply

  4. pegoleg
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 17:17:44

    I’m SO glad you like your new therapist – what an intensely personal relationship that must be, and how important that the person CLICK with YOU.

    Reply

  5. David Kanigan
    Oct 09, 2013 @ 19:14:21

    “I have enough. I am enough.” Love it…

    Reply

  6. Littlesundog
    Oct 15, 2013 @ 09:57:33

    Lovely post, Sandy. Teachers, books, experiences… seem to be coming at me right and left lately, all welcomed and embraced. Fear seems to have taken its bag of tricks down the road for a while. 😀

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Oct 15, 2013 @ 22:36:26

      Oh, that is such good news! Every time we kick that varmint out of our way, we learn it’s not impossible. Makes it a teeny bit easier the next time.

      Reply

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