How do we cope with unbearable pain? We drink, we eat, we smoke. We turn to our iPhones or our Facebook feeds or our video games. We lash out at ourselves or others. But what if instead of searching for external solutions, we learned how to cope with our pain – just by being with it? In her book Radical Acceptance, clinical psychologist and teacher of meditation Tara Brach urges us to do just that: accept ourselves and our pain, so we can treat ourselves with the care and kindness we deserve.
Radical acceptance may sound flimsy, but Brach makes sure to combat stereotypes about mindfulness and meditation. Radical acceptance does not mean giving up or sinking into passivity. Rather, it means giving ourselves the time and space to pause and to understand each moment, so our actions can reflect our compassion for the world, not just our emotional reactivity. Brach integrates some scientific theory as well as thoughts about medication in her book to enhance its holistic nature.
I would recommend Radical Acceptance to anyone interested in learning to affirm their emotions and tolerate their pain, both mental and physical.
While a little light on scientific theory, Brach does a wonderful job encouraging her readers to slow down and to sit with themselves, with mindfulness and wonder.