MT Blog

Acceptance, Pain, Suffering, and Healing

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Acceptance and present-centered awareness are two key elements of mindfulness practice. Acceptance, however, is not the same as liking something, nor is it passive resignation or mere tolerance. Acceptance receives reality as it is, and not how you would like it to be. A lack of acceptance can contribute to suffering when you resist a painful experience. I’m reminded of an old story about a Zen master who lost his son to war. With compassionate concern, his disciples gathered around the grieving master, who was crying over the death of his dear son. Having never observed the master in such emotional pain, a senior disciple approached him and stated, “Great master, I have always known you to be someone who abides with tranquility. Tell me what is happening.” The master simply replied, “My son has died and I am sad.” What the Zen master did not say was very telling. He could have cursed the gods or questioned why his son had died. Instead, he directly reflected reality. Gently and directly acknowledging your pain without embellishing it is a way of honoring a human experience that is the very expression of your wholeness and healing.


© 2018 Larry Cammarata, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist and Mindfulness Educator

Mindfulness Travels provides continuing education retreats to inspiring places throughout the world with leaders in the field of mindfulness-based psychology and mindful movement.

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