Tip of the Week: Open yourself to what you might be resisting.
We've talked frequently in this newsletter about acceptance, the need to receive and appreciate everything that's happening, even if it's unpleasant. Our instinct is to deny and avoid unpleasant experiences – after all, who wants to experience anything unpleasant? However, research has shown that meditation focused on acceptance can actually help lower the stress and anxiety associated with these experiences.
It makes logical sense, as well. If we confront something unpleasant and recognize that we are surviving, it takes the sting out of the experience just a little bit. Instead of hearing our brain say "Deny! Deny! Deny!" we let it embrace the negative circumstance. We realize we're still breathing, still living, still existing just as we were before.
Sometimes, however, even if my practice is consistent, I notice I'll often be accepting some things and avoiding others. It's as if I'm giving myself credit for accepting the anxiety, and using that as an excuse to not accept the existential dread! That may be oversimplifying it a bit, but I try to remind myself to remain open to those things that I'm shoving away without even knowing it. I'm human, after all. A regular meditation practice doesn't make one immune to that instinct to shove away the things that would be uncomfortable to deal with.
So, as much as possible when meditating, let those uncomfortable feelings be fresh and new. Really be curious; take a look at how they manifest in your body and how they make you feel. And, if you can stomach it, let those feelings in and accept them as part of your natural experience.