The theme this month at VWS is “trying something new,” and as I sit here thinking about what new thing I want to write about, the word acceptance keeps coming up for me.
I often find myself struggling with acceptance throughout the day, wishing I had something else that would make my life easier, or that when this part of my day is over I will feel better.
How many of us are waiting for something to change that will make our lives less stressful, more fun, less busy or more abundant? Wishing a relationship was different, you had a better job, more money, or that you looked different in some way?
We are hoping for a change in our present moment, telling ourselves that we are not good enough, and believing we are unworthy of being happy as we are.
For many people, being unsatisfied in the present moment has become automatic, and therefore are stressed and unhappy much of their day. Most of us are so busy during our day, moving from one activity to the next, that we struggle with slowing down into a few moments of stillness. I know I do. That is why this practice is so important to me!
Although I have the knowledge that slowing down, breathing and accepting the moment as it is will reduce my stress and help me feel better, I make up excuses to put it off. I find myself saying “now is not a good time, when I am done with this I will have more time, I will do it later, or I am feeling too stressed to slow down."
Do any of those sound familiar?
What if you tried to be still for a moment to shift the automatic inner critic that holds us back from experiencing joy? Instead of finding excuses to avoid acceptance, maybe we can find reasons to include a daily practice of mindfulness to invite acceptance. Instead of hoping for something different, you could find peace and contentment in where you are, who you are with, what you are doing or how you are doing it.
Habits are difficult to change and slowing down to find acceptance in the moment can take practice.
I have experienced and have had many clients struggle with self-judgement of not being good enough at it or having too many negative thoughts.
This is part of the process of acceptance.
Acknowledging the thoughts that come in (positive or negative) and accepting them as they are without trying to change them. As the saying goes, "it’s about the journey, not the destination."
There are many exercises to access and practice mindfulness. Each month I will be sharing a new one that I have found helpful in my life to reduce stress and increase joy. Here is a short one that can be practiced daily to help us on this journey towards acceptance.
Find a quiet place that you will be undisturbed for 5 minutes.
This can be anywhere – your bedroom, your car, a park, even your bathroom (for the parents out there).
- Sit in a comfortable position with your hands resting in your lap or on your legs.
- Close your eyes. You can set a timer for 5 minutes if you like.
- Bring your awareness to your breath. Notice as it moves in and then out of your body.
- Maintain this awareness of the breath without judgement of the length or sound or depth.
- Now bring your awareness to whatever thoughts are coming up:
*Are you uncomfortable, physically or emotionally?
*Do you wish the 5 minutes were over?
*Are you thinking about all the stuff you have to do later?
*Is this completely relaxing? (positive thoughts can come up too).
*No judgement; be kind to yourself. This is okay. Just be with these thoughts. Let them float around your mind and acknowledge that they are there. Don’t push them aside. Allow the experience to be there just as it is.
*Bring awareness back to the breath and continue this practice throughout the 5 minutes.
*Gently open your eyes and appreciate yourself for taking the time to try something new.
Gina Watkins and the VWS Team