MBSR week 6: Accepting and Letting Go
This week has been about letting go. I cannot imagine that soon this 8-week MBSR program will be over. Time has gone quickly, but now I also realize how much I have learnt about mindfulness as well as about myself during these weeks. Even though the program will come to an end, mindfulness will definitely stay in my life after this 8-week period. Something in me has changed during the past week, I cannot tell exactly what it is, but I can feel it. I think this might have something to do with last Sunday, when we had an intensive day and practiced mindfulness for many hours together in our group. I found something new in myself during that day.
Starting my mindfulness journey 6 weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I was open minded and ready to take what will come. As described in a previous post, when starting meditation, I struggled with staying still for longer periods of time. My body was refusing, resisting this new routine. Sitting still without doing anything was not something my body or mind was used to do, so that makes total sense. But now, after having practiced daily for 6 weeks, something has changed in my practices, especially when it comes to accepting and letting go.
What is acceptance? I have talked a lot about observing thoughts, sensations and emotions in my previous posts, but haven’t really moved to the next phase, which is acceptance. Once we observe ourselves, can we accept the thought, the emotion or sensation exactly as they are? We as humans are not good when it comes to accepting the things in us that we struggle with, which are negative or not good enough in our lives. We tend to have a lot of unrealistic expectations towards ourselves and towards basically everything.
A great time of our lives we actually do the opposite of acceptance; we resist, and we do so firstly because resistance is an automatic reaction. Also, in some cases acceptance can feel like giving up. But acceptance is seeing who you truly are, not who you think you should be. What would happen if you just accepted instead of fought against something? Would it release your energy for something much more meaningful? Definitely yes. Practicing mindfulness aims to help us towards this state of acceptance.
An important point worth mentioning is that accepting this moment doesn’t mean you need to accept bad treatment from others or to cope with something that really hurts you. Accepting does not mean you couldn’t change something in your life. Accepting the moment means that you accept what is now, as you cannot change it; you already are in the present moment. But what you can change – and sometimes it is extremely important to make those changes – is how your future will look. You can make actions towards a better tomorrow, but it requires you to first accept the present. That’s what acceptance is all about.
After we have observed and accepted, it is time to let go. Even though I have focused much on the importance of observation in my previous posts, mindfulness is not about holding onto any of those targets of observation for too long. Letting go is as important as observing and accepting. And I think this is where the real change can happen. One of the automatic behavior we tend to have is holding onto thoughts, emotions or sensations; whether we feel something amazing and fall in love for example, we would want to stay in that moment forever, right? Or whether we experience something that frustrates us or gets us angry, we want to react to those emotions in some way or analyze them. Both of these are examples of holding on instead of letting go.
It is empowering to understand that we can let go of anything we want. Doesn’t it sound great? We all have the power to let go of any thought, emotion or sensation that arise. It is important to understand that thoughts, sensations and emotions come and go, which is the reason we shouldn’t overvalue them. The only thing we need to learn is to be with them, neutrally. Becoming aware, accepting and letting go.
Getting back to my experience about both acceptance and letting go, I have seen a big shift during the past days. My body and mind are starting to accept and let go. Sitting still for 30minutes eyes closed in full awareness. The biggest resistance is gone, and it feels great.
If you are thinking should you start mindfulness as well, I hope my experience is giving you at least some help with making that decision. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
x Mari Susanna