We are wounded in relationship and we need to heal in relationship.
While so much of the wise teachings in the book Radical Acceptance focus on our relationship with ourselves and our solitary practices to be at peace with who we are, the theme of the eleventh chapter is that we can’t get there alone. We need each other.
I’m reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach as part of my amplify goals from last month. While I found all of the content and examples in the latest chapter relatable and compelling, here are three excerpts that I thought were most impactful.
It’s misguided to go through your suffering alone
While periods of solitude are a precious and vital part of spiritual practice, teachings that primarily emphasize silent meditation and a focus on one’s inner life can lead to a basic misunderstanding. They may reinforce a misguided notion that we are on a grim and lonely path and that our spiritual goals can only be realized in a vacuum.
I think we all intuitively realize that we need each other. Think back to one of your most cherished memories. Did it happen with other people you had, or still have, a deep relationship with? I’m betting it did.
Meaningful relationships are built by vulnerability
In expressing vulerability, we are always taking a chance and sometimes we might get hurt. What makes us willing is that the greater hurt, the real suffering, is in staying armored and isolated. While it takes courage to be vulerable, the reward is sweet: We awaken compassion and genuine intimacy in our relationships with others.
To be vulnerable, we have to be good listeners and communicators, which seems easy to understand but is incredibly hard to master. Fortunately, everyone else struggles just as much as you and I do. The exercises recommended in the book can be found in Communicating with awareness (aka being present and awake with each other).
Being with others makes being with ourselves easier
Being with good friends helps us relax about our inner weather and stop regarding our painful emotions or confused behaviors as symptoms of spiritual backsliding. As we bring our vulnerability, insight, and heart into conscious relationship, we realize we are all waking up together.
📖 This chapter builds on the previous, starting with the trance of unworthiness (Chapter 1), how Radical Acceptance can break that trance (Chapter 2), how pausing is the foundation of Radical Acceptance (Chapter 3), how to treat our experience with unconditional friendliness (Chapter 4), the importance of paying attention to physical sensations in the body (Chapter 5), how desires can fool us by being substitutes for our unmet needs (Chapter 6), the nature of fear and how to accept it (Chapter 7), developing compassion for ourselves and others (Chapters 8 & 9), and the critical role of forgiveness (Chapter 10).