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Don't Get Hooked on Flexing Acceptance! (Day 131)

We've been looking at the inevitable pain and optional suffering that comes with being alive. Recently, we've seen them through the eyes of the Buddha and Jesus. And the answer in both cases is to manage our emotional reactivity...and sin no more!

To accomplish this you'll use your awareness and acceptance muscles – taking unilateral responsibility for whatever situation you're in, seeing things clearly, and accepting things as they are.

We all start off more or less addicted to reactivity. But once we get some skill at accepting, a funny thing can happen where we get addicted to the BIG ACCEPTANCE. This is a good thing, at first, because any flexing of that muscle is important. But, over time, the arc of the practice must bend towards the subtle. Deep into the subtle (at levels where we still have to build the capacity to notice) is where you'll find your innate wellbeing, happiness and the answers to life's biggest and most important questions.

This is what's going on when you see that classic image of the monks whipping themselves. They're proving that although their bodies are in pain, they are not suffering. If you want to do this exercise well, you'll do it with the slightest smile! [M: but don't do this exercise!!] They got strong at accepting, but then didn't keep things in balance and also grow their awareness, which would have moved them towards the subtle. Instead, like with all addictions, you have to keep upping the intensity of the hit – which is how you end up choosing to torture yourself!

On a more day-to-day level, this can look like getting hooked on feeling strong sensations. The ice baths, hot yogas, extreme sports (and stressful work environments and relationships!) are wonderful and important practices, so long as you're also building subtlety.

We will never choose pain in this practice. There is enough pain in our lives that we don't need to go out looking for more. Enjoy those periods where you're experiencing no discernible pain, but don't get upset when it returns. Also, as you keep building your awareness of detail, you'll find ongoing subtler levels of pain and suffering to work on! 😊

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