Learning to pause is the first step to Radical Acceptance. It involves taking a step back and making a fair assessment of the situation. As Tara explains, most of us are caught up in a race from one goal to the next and the pause is the exact opposite of this. It can take a minute, hours, or even days but it reinforces the idea that you don’t have to react to everything that comes your way. You can instead consciously observe your experience.
The pause can be practiced in any situation which makes it a very powerful tool for shaping your reality. For example, if you struggle with overeating, and want to lose weight, you can ‘eavesdrop’ on the urge to eat instead of acting on it. Observe it as it takes over your body, see how it fuels your thoughts and influences your mood. This process is part of what Buddhists call the Middle Way and it teaches that there is nothing wrong with any of our emotions. For example, when Buddha faced fear in the shape of the god Mara, he would invite it for a cup of tea. Why? Because you don’t have to do anything that fear tells you to and more importantly, there is nothing wrong with fear.
“Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance.”
Tara concedes that some of her students and those new to Buddhism are likely to mistake the call to accept your emotions as surrendering to whatever they command. This is not true. For example, feeling lustful doesn’t mean you are lustful or that you should act in a lustful manner. The thing is, emotions are not markers of who we are because we can consciously change how we react to them.
When you think about it, this is an idea potent with meaning because it implies we are in a way boundless, and considering that Buddhism teaches we are an extension of everything and not some isolated self, such notions have a lot of credence.