Acceptance vs Apathy

What are the 7 Pillars of Mindfulness? Why do they include ‘acceptance’? Does acceptance really mean ‘apathy’? If so why should we and how can we accept the atrocities, uncertainties and injustice of the world? How could ‘acceptance’ be useful?

The 7 Pillars of Mindfulness

Non-Judging

Patience

Beginner’s Mind

Trust

Non-Striving

Acceptance

Letting Go

It is said that t to practice mindfulness we need to apply these 7 ‘attitudes’ or ‘guiding principles’. I talk about these a lot. I use them with every mindful art group we run. I pin them to the wall. I read them through and I share and explain them. And yet when I say them out loud, they don’t all feel right for me. Let’s look at each one by one.

Non-Judging

Hum I don’t love a word that starts with ‘non’ that’s not really a word is it? Like if you  shout “don’t run!” we just hear “run”, better to say “slow down” “be steady”? So is there a word that already exists that describes ‘non-judging’? If you can think of any please tell me! I don’t love the word/s ‘non-judging’ but we can understand the message it tells us though right? So that’s useful. And I totally agree with the concept. I hate being judged. I aim not to judge others. But it’s hard. It’s more normal and day to day to judge.

judging is especially important in mindful art I think. Because in create art work we really put ourselves out their. We create a visual record, documenting and expressing out experience. We are open and authentic. And an unconsidered judgment can really hurt. So we talk about this one a lot in Mindful Art. To talk from our own experience about our responses to the art, not the judgments and assumptions we make about other peoples mindful art.

Patience

Strong, simple word. An area I’m aware I might always need to work on! I’ll have to be patient with myself on this one! Again so relevant in Mindful Art. Art often takes patience and time and kindness.

Beginner’s Mind

This one I like to play with. And my three year old little boy helps guide me with every day! As he truly is seeing things and experiencing new things for the first time and has a genuine ‘beginner’s mind’ to remind me what it’s like to see the world through a ‘beginner’s mind’. Dropping judgements or expectations. And just being. Being aware of and fully present in the moment. Be here now.

Trust

Nice. Love this. Trust in self. Trust in self. Awareness of when and how to trust others. Trust in the mindfulness as a tool that grows the more you use it. Trust in the art work you make. Trust to let yourself play.

Non-Striving

Now this is where I start to get a bit stuck. Ok in Mindful Art I can have moments of play and being in the moment and not striving. Again it’s another ‘non’ word, not it’s own strong word. And at The Owl and The Coconut we are an art organisation, we have deadlines and projects to manage and funds to raise and staff to nurture, all the people we work with to think about and reach out to and a world to change! Do we ‘strive’ to do that? We must do right? So can we live by theses 7 pillars? Or only dip into them? Can you be ‘active’ in ‘activism’ without striving? How can we react, share and change without striving? Thoughts please!

Acceptance

Somethings I can ‘accept’. The past is the past. Awful things happen. The future is unknown. Thoughts aren’t facts. I accept these concepts. But does ‘acceptance’ mean ‘apathy’? Do we shrug our shoulders a go “oh yeah that’s awful. Next.”. Just acceptance without action? That makes me feel stuck. I need to understand the mindful pillar of ‘acceptance’ more I’m sure. I can’t be reading it right? Please do comment, let’s discuss this.

This quote I’ve found helps me to think about it;

“Acceptance is not passive; it does not mean you have to like everything and abandon your principles and values. It does not mean you have to be resigned to tolerating things. It does not mean that you should stop trying to break free of your own self-destructive habits or give up your desire to change and grow.  Acceptance is a willingness to see things as they are. You are much more likely to know what to do and have an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.” Linda J. Ferguson

So maybe ‘acceptance’ is understanding? Empathy? Knowing the facts. Holding onto our principles and values and acting inline with them in response to what we have accepted?

Letting Go

Letting go of pain and blocks and things that no longer ‘serve’ us. Acknowledging that they are no longer useful for us in our lives. Letting go can be hard for me. I like to cling to things. But I know I need to. I know the benifits of letting go. Possessions, thoughts, actions, people. Sometimes we need to let go, to move on and move forward. Letting go is not forgetting. We remember, we enjoy and we respond. But we let the weight of it go. Like putting down a back pack full of bricks we didn’t even know we were carrying, for like the last 20 years! Letting go often moves me into humour, seeking out fun and laughter. Which is a brilliant processing tool. So let’s end on a laugh hey? Take it away Monty Python….

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