Understanding the ergonomics of acceptance

“How much more ’emotionally ergonomic’ could you be if you didn’t give your negative emotions the resistance that they need to become stronger?”

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks a bit closer at what mindful acceptance looks like, how it helps, and how you can start practicing.

In the spirit of acceptance,


Understanding the ergonomics of mindful acceptance

When you are building muscle in the gym, you do so by giving the muscle resistance to work against, so it becomes stronger.
The same holds true on a psychological level; when you resist an emotion or situation that is present for you, you are providing ‘resistance’ for it to grow stronger.
So, when you have a difficult emotion or circumstance, counter-intuitively often the best thing to do once you become aware of it is to practice acceptance, aka non-resistance to it. When you practice acceptance skill fully, you deny the emotion the ´resistance’ that it needs to build strength. Consequently, the amount of energy you need to deal with it effectively is much reduced. The energy that you save then becomes available to focus on doing things that are actually going to help.

Example: Working with combined physical & logistical challenges
Recently I had go to hospital to repeat a small hernia operation. The next day was quite challenging, as I still had to do some work, and it was really quite painful to move around. As I was trying to catch up on my work and communications, my computer decided to stop working. This meant that, in addition to the physical discomfort, my work was doubly disrupted.
The next day I had to travel to the repair centre. Upon arrival I was told that they couldn’t fix it for a price less than the computer itself, and that it would take 4-8 weeks! So I then had to walk and travel some more to get a new computer. Basically the whole afternoon when I could have been resting up was taken hobbling around town obtaining a functional piece of hardware to work from!
It was a long day, and I could go on about other things that went wrong as well. At each stage I could feel my mind and emotions rising up to resist the reality of what is going on:

  • “I can’t believe it chose this time of all times to break, cant my computer see I just had an operation!”
  • “What, how can the repair cost as much as the original??”
  • “Why can’t I just catch a break!”

So, at each stage I had to consciously notice the emotional resistance, and gently encourage myself into a space of acceptance of the circumstances. From there I could look at what was in front of me, and act in the way that is most effective and took the least energy.
By practicing acceptance and non-resistance, by the end of the day I was resting up on my couch, with my new computer, and all that needed to be done had been done. Acceptance made it much less stressful and much more ergonomic than it would have been if I had been fighting my misfortune all the way through the afternoon.

In your own life:
What are the circumstances and experiences that you tend to resist? What emotions do you tend to repress or deny? What would happen if you were to practice conscious non-resistance and acceptance with them? How much more ’emotionally ergonomic’ could you be if you didn’t give your negative emotions the resistance that they need to become stronger?

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2019.

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