In AA’s Big Book it says that “Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems.” The older I get the more I discover that is true. Now acceptance doesn’t mean that we cannot take action on a problem, acceptance is, however, the first step. Recognizing and acceptance of problems and life as it is in the present moment is a key concept of recovery. It is also a core concept in Buddhism. Or I were to put Buddhist philosophies in a nutshell I would use the term acceptance to define Buddhism core teaching. Acceptance is to not resist what exists in our present moment.
For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I am a bit of a weather junkie and I often hear many people complain about the weather. Now only do we complain, we like to judge the weather. Sunny warm days are called “good weather” and snowy rainy days are called “bad weather.” When we experience bad weather we resist it, complain and suffer. I actually enjoy many types of weather, although I do admit that when weather doesn’t change fast enough to suit my preferences I can struggle with it. But with weather I try to just accept it and enjoy whatever is in the present moment. I like to take the song lyrics to Michael Tomlinson’s song “Seattle Skies”to heart …
“I loved the thrill of the wind, oh, as early as I can recall. I thought of weather as my friend Whether sun or snow or rain, I was born to love it all.”
My mind can have its own weather patterns. Sometimes it is bright and sunny and sometimes stormy and sometimes cloudy and gloomy. I don’t know about you but I want to live in the sunshine of my mind all of the time. However, the changing nature of our monkey mind doesn’t really make that an option. So it is ironic, a paradox, that to constantly chase after serenity can often mean we do no accept our mind as it is in the present moment. Chasing frantically after serenity and contentment will only guarantee that it will remain elusive.
This is where developing mindfulness comes in. Being mindful to means being aware of what it going on within me in the present moment so I am not caught up in the whirlwinds of life and my mind. The practice of mindfulness is the way I can practice acceptance. Like a puddle that has been muddied if I just let it be with compassionate acceptance I can watch as the storms pass, the muddiness and the cloudiness in my mind dissipate.
This is not always easy. I have years of practicing being a storm chaser and storm creator. So I must accept that I am still a student and still learning.