Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice


Inner Work

For the week of May 4, 2009

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The Practice of Self-Acceptance

Non-acceptance of ourself creates warring camps in our inner world, and vice versa. We are divided and have no unity of being or will. The casualties of this non-acceptance are our precious wasted resources of time, energy, and emotional investment, missed opportunities and half-heartedness in pursuit of our goals. And if we cannot accept ourselves as we are, then we have little possibility of fully accepting anyone else. The practice of self-acceptance gradually evaporates our inner barriers, because the one in us who accepts transcends those parts in us that either reject or are rejected. But for this we need to practice, to retrain our attitudes toward ourselves.

The practice of mindfulness meditation directly and powerfully addresses this issue of non-acceptance. We sit quietly, watching whatever crosses the stage of our mind, be it thoughts or mental images, emotions, physical urges, or sensory perceptions. Whatever their content, however “sticky” they are, we let them come and we let them go. We do not pursue or nurture, ruminate over or consider them, nor do we reject them. We let the content of our inner world be as it is and as it changes, without driving those changes. We just sit and notice all that goes on in us.

If it’s a thought or emotion we don’t like, we notice the thought or emotion as a thought or emotion, and we also notice the not-liking of it as another emotion. Our ordinary way of responding to this situation would be to identify with the part of us that rejects and push away what we are rejecting. In this practice of mindfulness meditation, we neither identify nor push away. We see that the part that rejects is not who we are and that the part that is rejected is not who we are. We are the one who sits and sees and allows, in a non-reactive, fully-aware, and calm state of just being. We spread the great and welcoming tent of awareness over the whole of our inner world. We embrace the whole of ourselves, the whole beauty and the whole catastrophe, with kindness and compassion.

This approach in the quiet of meditation offers an essential training for the much more complex inner and outer situations we confront in our daily life. Through this type of meditation we train ourselves to be and to see and not to identify. We become more objective and impartial toward the multitude of conflicting desires that populate our inner world. In the midst of a self-antagonistic inner conflict, we turn to just seeing both sides in us, seeing that neither is who we are, that each is a only a complex of thoughts, attitudes, and emotions, that each is a part of us to be reclaimed into the whole of us by compassion. We allow both sides to be as they are.

We realize that we need not reject our self-critical attitudes, but rather by just seeing and noticing those attitudes we further the integration of our inner world. We learn that we need not take our thoughts and attitudes as defining us. That ability comes from learning to be, to be conscious, to be more than just our thoughts, emotions, and body.

Self-acceptance enables us to move beyond our small self, beyond our fractionated, egocentric concerns to put our inner work of transformation in its rightful place of priority. Self-acceptance makes us whole. It enables us to stop wasting energy in inner conflicts and makes that energy available for our true work.

For this week, practice self-acceptance.


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