One of the best teachings I received from Rob Nairn was on self-acceptance. He would say ‘If we accepted ourselves wholly and unconditionally would it matter what others think of us?’ He would also say that ‘We might as well accept this version of ourself as we don’t have a spare in the cupboard!’ That has always made me laugh and these phrases were the starting point for a session on acceptance that I led at Samye Ling this weekend. Tina Gilbert and I were delivering weekend three of the Level 1 Mindfulness Training: Being Present (For more information, please click here).
It was a profound session with many tears, held within the self-kindness and self-compassion of the remainder of the weekend, with much insight and potential for personal growth.
I have always found in my own practice that periods of time when my practice is tranquil are great, but often don’t lead to much personal growth. During these times I would wish for more turbulence in my practice – for the challenge. Then the turbulence would come and I’d sit within it for days, weeks or months and wish for tranquility! However, I know that turbulent emotions in my practice lead to personal growth and this motivates my curiosity about what is happening – a cautious approach to the difficulty, rather than a full scale withdrawal. In my experience avoiding a difficulty gives it more strength – like pushing a ball under water, the more you push it down, the more energy it has to pop back up again!
I admired the group for sticking with it through the weekend. I had warned them at the start that weekend three is a bit like a roller-coaster ride, ratcheting up, then whizzing about all over the place with ups and downs, before finally coming back to a safe halt where we can get off and go get candy floss! By the end of the weekend we had braved the edges of rejection and acceptance together and were stronger because of it. Sharing our experiences and recognising that we are not on our own in our experience of rejection, a chance to feel our common humanity – that we are not on our own – is so very healing.
We continued with our theme of Mindfulness in nature, but on Saturday the weather was not so kind to us. Sunday morning was beautiful though and Tina led us through a Mindful walk to the beach, to be by the river, looking out, playing with stacking piles of pebbles, resting in nature. So healing.
We are evolved to be in nature and so prioritising this can be very healing. We are also evolved to live in groups to survive, which is why rejection is so painful. The funny thing is that the more we don’t worry about what others think about us and accept ourselves, then the more we become authentically ourselves and so the more others warm to us.
Another thing Rob says about the mind was that it is like ‘Tricksy Hobbitses’ – thank goodness for his mind training, so that we can begin to see through some of the tricks!
We have an archive of Rob’s talks on our website – to explore this, please click this link.
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