Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns...We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.
Pain is not wrong. Reacting to pain as wrong initiates the trance of unworthiness. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat the pain.
We are uncomfortable because everything in our life keeps changing -- our inner moods, our bodies, our work, the people we love, the world we live in. We can't hold on to anything -- a beautiful sunset, a sweet taste, an intimate moment with a lover, our very existence as the body/mind we call self -- because all things come and go. Lacking any permanent satisfaction, we continuously need another injection of fuel, stimulation, reassurance from loved ones, medicine, exercise, and meditation. We are continually driven to become something more, to experience something else.
When someone says to us, as Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, "Darling, I care about your suffering," a deep healing begins.
Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance. If we are holding back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out any part of who we are and what we feel, we are fueling the fears and feelings of separation that sustain the trance of unworthiness. Radical Acceptance directly dismantles the very foundations of this trance.
The emotion of fear often works overtime. Even when there is no immediate threat, our body may remain tight and on guard, our mind narrowed to focus on what might go wrong. When this happens, fear is no longer functioning to secure our survival. We are caught in the trance of fear and our moment-to-moment experience becomes bound in reactivity. We spend our time and energy defending our life rather than living it fully.
The renowned seventh-century Zen master Seng-tsan taught that true freedom is being "without anxiety about imperfection.
There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life.
But this revolutionary act of treating ourselves tenderly can begin to undo the aversive messages of a lifetime.
In bullfighting there is an interesting parallel to the pause as a place of refuge and renewal. It is believed that in the midst of a fight, a bull can find his own particular area of safety in the arena. There he can reclaim his strength and power. This place and inner state are called his querencia. As long as the bull remains enraged and reactive, the matador is in charge. Yet when he finds his querencia, he gathers his strength and loses his fear. From the matador's perspective, at this point the bull is truly dangerous, for he has tapped into his power.
On this sacred path of Radical Acceptance, rather than striving for perfection, we discover how to love ourselves into wholeness.
Fear of being a flawed person lay at the root of my trance, and I had sacrificed many moments over the years in trying to prove my worth. Like the tiger Mohini, I inhabited a self-made prison that stopped me from living fully.
The muscles used to make a smile actually send a biochemical message to our nervous system that it is safe to relax the flight of freeze response.
Spiritual awakening is the process of recognizing our essential goodness, our natural wisdom and compassion.
Attention is the most basic form of love. By paying attention we let ourselves be touched by life , and our hearts naturally become more open and engaged.
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.