When thinking about a mindfulness exercise to practice today, I suddenly had a chuckle, remembering a time I tried to practice a mindful breathing exercise on the bus and immediately gave up after the driver slammed on the breaks. “Clearly this isn’t the right time to do mindfulness. It’s too hard,” I thought to myself before automatically pulling out my phone for some Instagram escapism. Yet as I sit here now, I’m thinking about how that moment on the bus was actually the perfect time to practice! A major aspect of mindfulness is enhancing our capacity to accept, without judgement, the internal or external events happening both within and outside of our control. On that bus ride, my struggle to radically accept the present moment hooked me away from my mindful intention like Amateur Night at The Apollo!
Tara Brach, author and teacher of meditation, explains that “Radical acceptance has two parts: we clearly recognize what’s happening in the present moment and regard what we see with open presence.” She goes on to outline that, “Step one is recognizing, ‘What’s happening right here?’ Step two is asking yourself, ‘Can I let this be?'” With these two steps in mind, I invite you to playfully challenge yourself today by choosing 3 minutes of your day where you anticipate distractions. It could be sitting at your desk as you arrive at work, driving in traffic, walking down a noisy street, etc. I’ll be giving the bus a second go-round!
Next, close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath, noticing the sensation of the air entering and exiting your lungs. Take a moment to remind yourself of your intention for this practice, repeating to yourself, “May I accept whatever happens up without judgement.” As you continue to bring your awareness steadily to your breath, just begin to notice ways in which your mind is showing non-acceptance towards yourself, this moment, or other people. This non-acceptance may come in the form of thoughts such as, “I don’t want to be here,” “this is too hard for me,” or “this person’s conversation is so dumb.” Notice what emotions come along with this stance of non-acceptance. Is it annoyance, impatience, frustration? Where do you sense this emotion most in your body?
After you’ve noticed and been curious about your mind entering a struggle of non-acceptance, repeat one of the following phrases to yourself before returning your attention to your breath:
“I choose to accept the present moment exactly how it is.”
“I choose to open my heart instead of trying to control.”
For an extended audio version of this meditation, check out https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ixp4bhnMmOE