Discover What Is Asking for Acceptance

Discover what is asking for acceptance… This may sound like a very complicated and busy way to meditate, but in practice it is very simple. The general rule is simply to sit and be aware of what arises. If there are repeated patterns, expand the field of awareness. Then sense what is asking for acceptance. This is the third principle. Repeated patterns remain because of some level of resistance: an aversion, fear, or judgment locks them in. This contraction is built out of fear. To release it, we must acknowledge what is present and ask our heart, “How am I receiving this?” Do we wish it to change? Is there a difficult feeling, belief, or sensation we have contracted around that we want to be over or go away? Is there some attachment, some fear?

Struggle and dictating doesn’t work in our inner life. So we must inquire what aspect of this repeated pattern is asking for acceptance and compassion, and ask ourself, “Can I touch with love whatever I have closed my heart to?” This doesn’t mean solving it or figuring it out—it is simply asking, “What wants acceptance?” In difficult patterns of thought, emotion, or sensation, we must open to feel their full energy in our body, heart, and mind, however strongly they show themselves. This includes opening to our reactions to this experience as well, noticing the fear, aversion, or contraction that arises and then accepting it all. Only then can it release.

One of the clearest places to observe the process of contraction in our life is in meditation. Frequently we will experience ourselves contracting around and reacting to a specific difficulty that comes like an insistent visitor over and over again in our meditation. This repeated pattern of thoughts, moods, and sensations can be sensed as somehow stuck or unfinished. I am not referring to the general problems of sleepiness, judgment, or irritation we spoke of in naming the demons, but very specific and often painful sensations, thoughts, feelings, and stories that arise repeatedly in our consciousness. These are called sankaras in Sanskrit. When repeated difficulties do arise, our first spiritual approach has been to acknowledge what is present, naming, softly saying, “sadness, sadness,” or “remembering, remembering,” or whatever. Of course, certain patterns that repeat will call for a response, some wise action on our part. We must recognize these situations, and as one Zen master put it, “Not just sit there like an idiot.” However, many insistent visitors, even when we have named them or responded to them, will continue to repeat themselves, arising again and again. When any experience of body, heart, or mind keeps repeating in consciousness, it is a signal that this visitor is asking for a deeper and fuller attention. While the general rule in meditation is to stay open to the flow of whatever arises, when we encounter an insistent visitor, we must recognize that this is its way of asking us to give it more attention, to understand it more clearly. This process involves investigation, acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness.


This excerpt is taken from the book, “A Path With Heart

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