Some say addiction is a societal disease- tied to the act of endless consumption; never enough; more, more, more. Emily Fletcher, the founder of Ziva Meditation, talks about it as the “I’ll be happy when..” Syndrome; This notion that if I could just get more I would find Nirvana… or at least a better feeling. And for addicts and alcoholics, it can be even more enticing because we often feel powerless over our feelings, and have tied our power to survive them with certain substances. But in reality, we can access a lot of power in the simple act of acceptance acknowledging that it could be ok, just as it is. Finding the power to accept even the most unacceptable aspects of our reality is truly liberating. Acceptance allows us to relax enough to allow our feelings to pass, especially over time, with more and more practice. So how can we use this simple idea, for the sake of allowing more well-being, contentment, and freedom to grow? I’ll explore a few possible answers to this question, along with some reasons why this can be such a beneficial concept to explore. The lure of finding something external to fix our feelings/life circumstance is seductive. Who doesn’t want to feel bliss or contentment at the drop of a hat. And initially substances do enable that instant bliss to surface. How can sobriety compete with this instantaneous shift in feelings? Well, What if we came to understand that, not only is this bliss, or rise in positive feelings, possible to experience in recovery, but that a continuous growth in the natural evolution of well-being is inevitable, it is natural. What we think we are fighting against in times of craving more, is actually well-being. We fight the well-being with thoughts of lack, or self-deprecation and resistance to what is. The fight is not against evil, or moral discrepancy, it is against the flow of expansion. And the bridge between any sort of obsession with lack and the next step towards allowing all that we are becoming, is acceptance. So much of what we have to learn, to live in peace without the use of substances, is to allow; receive blessings, go with the flow, re-learn the nature of our environment as a friendly serving one, not a hostile attacking reality, like the one we have been accustomed to living in. So how exactly does one learn to go with the flow- to float, as opposed to struggle. How can we take the slogan “the struggle is real” and adjust that to a more liberating possibility: That, though the experience of struggle is for sure a piece of many people’s very real experience, the struggle is optional, especially as time goes by, as we practice acceptance.
Here are a few steps to consider in strengthening a practice of acceptance:
- 1. Pause. There is a place in the Big Book of AA, p. 86 that reads “I pause when agitated or doubtful, and wait for the right thought or action to come.” A nice piece of wisdom from someone who was successfully living a life in recovery. The pause is a first step towards allowing all that is present in a particular experience, to be what it is. We think change will bring us more acceptance, but truly it is the acceptance that allows for the evolution of all that we desire to manifest.
- 2. Breathe. Breath is a powerful catalyst for letting go of analysis. So much of our resistance to accept, comes in the form of obsession, that addictive tendency to cling to ideas, however uncomfortable or negatively focused they may be, simply because it is habit. We get to learn in recovery how to transform habit through creating new ones. Read more about breath, and it’s transformative power here.
- 3. Remember that we are more- more than physical, more than intellectual. Remember the feeling of something more, something permeating all of life, that is unwavering, solid, and with us at all times, even if just a consistent heartbeat is all that you can summon for this concept. There is a force of life existing independent of our personal conscious attention, consistently through all aspects of experience. Remember the constant of this being-ness. This will help release resistance to accepting parts of our experience and bring us into the energy of allowing all that is to flow.
- 4. And lastly, remember that everything changes, everything is always evolving, expanding, and transmuting.
Acceptance is getting to the truth that nothing is permanent, so all that is truly accepted does not stay how it is accepted, it transforms into something different, something easier to accept. By not clinging to resistance of reality, we allow it to change and evolve. When we practice acceptance, we get better, we become more practiced in this art of allowing, and all of life comes to provide evidence of the growing ease of this skill, by producing aspects of reality that are, in essence, easier to accept. It’s sort of a “which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” scenario. It depends on where you are in your journey; do you hold a chicken or do you hold an egg? Do you hold easy to-accept circumstances, or did they become easy to accept with the growing practice of acceptance? The latter can offer some freedom, especially for addicts entering a new world of expansion. We can let go of fighting negative aspects; let what surfaces, in the process of recovery, be what it is; and begin to grow the freedom, rather than the fight. In the simple beauty of letting things be, sinking into a heart space- a surrendered space- we can find the power of our surrender to transform our manifested reality and create a new life in freedom.