Acceptance is the Beginning of Release.

In the two decades I’ve been teaching meditation, the common thread that runs through the motivations of most of the people I’ve taught, is they want to be released in some way.

Whether released from a sense of spiritual numbness they feel, or ignorance, or on a more mundane level release from restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, depression and so on.

People want release from a kind of constriction they feel, be it mental or physical.

And when I began meditating it was for reasons no different. In my novel, ‘Levin’s God’ I described it like this:

“The zipper feeling. That’s what I call it – the zipper feeling. It’s been nagging at me for a long time – ever since I can remember, but it’s only since I’ve been on the trams that it’s really been a problem. It’s the strangest feeling – sort of claustrophobic – like my skin becomes a sheath of thick rubber that’s shrinking and I’m being squeezed and squeezed because something inside of me is expanding. And it gets so tight my skin feels like its near bursting, and I start wishing there was a zip I could rip down, “zzzzzztt!” and leap out of my body. Into what? I don’t know – somewhere else, anywhere but where I am.”

It’s so deep, this need for release. And very few westerners are free of it. Which is why we are so restlessly creative I suppose – always looking for something better, more satisfying, more, more, more. We always want more. Bigger, more comfort, more entertainment, more achievement, more fun, more excitement. We want happiness – and we imagine how it would be – a kind of sudden freedom – a throwing off of the heavy cloak of everything that weighs us down, even if only for a while.

Release.

On a very deep level we all have some idea of how it might feel to be free of the stuff that loads us down – whatever that stuff is – which is probably why the New Age is one of the most lucrative business models on earth.

It promises release.

Ancient peoples like the Australian indigenous people, or the Kalahari bush people seemed not to have this need wehave – they flowed with the earth, wind, rain and sun and were happy to be as they were at any one time, to the extent that, for thousands of years they saw no need to change their living habits and rhythms – but lived and died in the same continuum as everything else around them.

But us?  Our entire existence and everything we’ve built, and most of our problems seem predicated by our desire for freedom – release.

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And so we come to meditation, and in most of the emails I get, as I said, I see this need.

But ironically, as much as a need for release forms a reason people come to meditation, so too it sits beneath most of the problems they have as they try to meditate.

As it did with me, when I began to meditate back in 1991.  When I first traveled to Thailand to go into silent retreat at Sorn Thawee, to spend hours, days and months meditating in a little hut,  I wanted release from the dysfunctional fabric of habits left from the life I had been leading to that point.

And for the first two years of practice, I made every mistake a meditator can make. And often I felt like I was the worst meditator in the universe, because every time I got close to the release I aspired to, something would stop me – my body would develop new aches and pains, my mind would become unworkable, or a gust of intense emotion would create chaos.

And I would fight for release from these things as they arose.  On and on I fought for release, focusing harder, controlling my breath, doggedly pushing through the pain, killing off thoughts as they arose. But this muscular form of meditation only seemed to create more suffering … which intensified my desire for release.

Until one day, in the third month of my second retreat, sitting on a bench in my hut, struggling as usual, I realized something.

And it happened like this:

This second retreat had been extremely hard, and I felt like I should give up and go home – resume my life and forget meditation. Because it seemed as if the harder I tried, the more I was losing my way. After three months of meditation, my mind seemed more uncontrollable than before I began, my emotions more uncontrollable and my body a ball of tension and pain. And the harder I tried to tunnel through these problems with the meditation methods, the more intense they seemed to get.

Until one particular day.

As usual, I was sitting on the bench in my hut, pushing and pushing – meditating with desperate energy, fighting with all the stuff of myself – when suddenly I reached my limit. I simply ran out of energy.

I lost hope that I would ever find the release I thought I needed … and in surrendering, I finally accepted how I felt.

I accepted the pain I felt from sitting motionless for so long trying to meditate, which I had been trying to transcend.

I accepted how miserable and defeated I felt, which I had been denying

I accepted the profound rage bubbling and perking in my core, the feeling of which which I had tightened up against –  the tiredness I had been tightening up against.  I accepted all thought forms I had been suppressing.

And it all came flooding in – a cyclone of thinking and worrying which picked me up and whirled me away as I relaxed into the pain, and surrendered to the despair, and sighed as misery flowed through me.

But to my surprise, as intense as all this backed up muck was, from the moment I let go and accepted what was happening, it disappeared as quickly as it came.

Everything I had been struggling with for the last three months – all the pain, confusion, despair and rage – it evaporated.

Instantly.

And for the first time in my life, I experienced what it is to be free, and at peace.

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I won’t bore you with what happened after that, because it’s not important to this post.

What is important is the point I am trying to make, which I have made in many previous posts on this blog:

 There is no release without acceptance!

All this desire for release that sits beneath the problems that people tell me about – that desire is itself the problem.  To meditate with a desire for release from anything is fruitless.

Meditation for release is like trying to catch a small bird by running around snatching at it – it will always elude you.

But if you accept that the bird cannot be caught and just stand still, you just might find it will land on your shoulder.

So please remember this as you meditate – it’s  important that you meditate from within a profound acceptance of what you are, and what you have become. All the aches and pains, whatever emotional resonances you feel: confusion, peace, happiness, illness, injury, sadness, rage, whatever.  Accept it all.  Accept what is happening now … and now … and now.

This is not to say you expect to stay the same.

Not at all.  You meditate in constant openness to change, should it happen. You meditate knowing that change is your friend – that as much as it has brought what is currently happening so too it will take it away.

And in this acceptance, like the bird, change will land on your shoulder as free flow – as release.  Whether fast or slow it will come.  But first you must be still and accept.

Nothing can change if it is not first accepted.

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To buy the Practical Meditation Audio Course please click HERE …. ($50)

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