Chapter One

Excerpt from Letting It Be: My Lessons in Acceptance by Lisa Templeton, Ph.D.

Be Wherever You Are...non-judgmentally.

 "Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."  -Lao Tzu

     We work very hard to resist certain thoughts or emotions in our life. We generally want to try to feel good. When we don't feel good, we try to find some way to feel good again.  This is understandable and plays a huge part in why many feel bad about themselves and their lives.  It can aid us to sit with how we are feeling for a time without changing it or trying to modify our experience in any way.  With this in mind, we begin to learn to tolerate our emotions for short periods and observe our experience from our observer stance instead of from a place of reaction or resistance. 

     It is only natural to feel resistance at times, especially with an emotion that seems to continue on or get more intense due to life circumstances.  Don’t forget that emotions move; they ebb and flow in intensity.  That is the root of the word – e-motion.  Sometimes our emotions can feel so raw that we just don’t think we can sit with them anymore.  It is ok to feel that way.  It is also healthy to move away from the emotion for a time.  We are masters at distraction and have a plethora of stimuli in our world to keep the emotion at bay for a time.  We just don’t want to fall into a continuous loop of distraction.  It is ok to resist, just know that what we resist tends to persist.   So how do we get out of the loop?  If we are resisting, the condition or problem that we are resisting ends up being perpetuated.

     The first step to get out of this loop is to feel your resistance, just notice it.  What does your resistance feel like?  In myself, it is a pulling, a negative attitude and a hopeless voice that lulls me to inaction.  I feel it in my heart and it feels heavy – I can start to feel less motivated at times and other times aggravated.  What do you notice in yourself?  Not feeling any resistance?  Perhaps not in this moment, but you will likely at some point in a future moment.  There will be a time you do feel resistance - don't try to fight it or tell yourself it is wrong.   Validate the feeling for yourself – as you would likely do for a friend or loved one (it’s so much easier to do from an objective place). 

     Acknowledging and accepting our emotions validates these experiences and can allow it to be a gift to you.  We must trust in this natural flow of nature of allowing ourselves to be wherever we are.   All emotions are part of our humanity.  As we practice sitting and working with our emotions with no judgment, we learn peace, we learn patience, we learn deeper wisdom and we learn to accept whatever is to be.  We also grow stronger and more curious about ourselves and our emotional world.  Additionally, we can learn how to stay engaged in the moment, while sitting in detachment of our emotions.  This doesn’t mean checked out – it means observed and aware.  To sit with our emotions and observe them is not an easy task – it’s a life-long one at that.  Still, this task will begin to get easier and easier with practice.

     Sometimes, it can seem as though certain circumstances and particular emotions continue to come up – we try to observe them and they continue to plague us.  A wise woman once told me that as we climb the mountain of life, we are doing so in a spiral fashion – you will likely run into similar, if not the same challenges over and over again in our life.  If we can bring an attitude of thanks and give gratitude to what we are experiencing, a completely different perspective emerges.   

     Why do you think an attitude of gratitude seems to help people?  Consider the law of attraction – like attracts like, the same energy is drawn to itself.  If we focus on lack, we are likely drawing more lack to ourselves.  If we focus on abundance, we get more abundance.   

     Where do you place your focus in each moment?  For now, pay attention to that.  Don’t make the mistake of identifying ways in which your thinking is not effective or is focusing a lot on lack and then judging yourself for it.  Stop – don’t judge it!  Notice the thought, the feeling associated with the thought, and then remind yourself of the abundance in your life and the fact that you have intention to change the thought pattern.  We cannot accomplish any change in our life without intention.  State an intention to work with the thought pattern you are noticing and wanting to change, even if you have no alternative thoughts or can’t even see a way out right now.  Just be with it, as a child enjoys the quality time with its mother.

     Surrender to the flow of what you find in your mind and begin to notice anything you find there, be it frustration, impatience, peace, love, relaxation, or resistance.  Start without pressuring yourself to change anything at first.  Ask yourself - what does it feel like in my body if I am feeling something negative, if I’m resisting something? What does it feel like to accept?   Notice the feeling – does your body feel different?  Pay attention to these feelings and take note how much energy your body expends to keep resisting something vs. accepting something as it is and being with it vs. just observing the experience.  Allow your feeling to be as it naturally is.

     Practice just being wherever you are without judgment - allow whatever happens to happen in the moment.  If you find that you are judging yourself in the process, notice it and move into the next moment.  It could help to have an object to focus on - you could use your breath, your hands, the tip of your nose, the airflow in and out of your nose.  Once you realize you have moved away from that object, return back to it with compassion.   Allow circumstances to flow and surrender to the present.   Move like a pendulum back and forth from your thoughts/feelings/sensations to the moment and back again. The moment is always there so do your best to notice it as often as you can.   Perhaps it’s taking a breath or listening to a bird chirp or hearing a baby laugh…take in all that you are experiencing good and bad.

     If you find that you don’t want to be with an event or emotion occurring, try to summon some patience with it and notice your resistance with love and compassion.  We can't change things until we understand them - begin to explore your inner world as an experimenter might explore his/her research data.  You will, no doubt, learn something valuable about yourself.

Meditation on Being Where You Are in the moment:

     For this meditation, take several deep breaths to start.  Focus on how you are feeling in the moment.  Identify any emotions, physical sensations and/or thoughts you are having as you are observing them more objectively.  Being where you are - pay attention to thoughts, sensations and feelings that surface during the meditation.  If you are a human, your attention will slip and move to matters of the day, past memories, etc.  If you find that you have wondered away from your focus on observing and allowed the thinker to take over – simply shift back in a loving, compassionate manner.   No matter what comes up, be with it. Try not to resist it, yet if you find yourself doing it, observe it with love.  Your mind might wander to various places and you may completely forget you are meditating, but the moment you remember that "I'm supposed to be meditating" - you are meditating again!  You cannot fail – if you attempt it, you have already succeeded!