Jon Kabat-Zinn described healing as “coming to terms with things as they are”. Acceptance could be defined as the ability to open up to our experiences – our thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges, sensations, memories. Whether they are pleasurable or painful – we acknowledge them, make space for them, sit with them, let them pass through us. All in the service of responding effectively to life’s challenges. To build a meaningful life in a manner that’s congruent with who we want to be, what we want to pursue, guided by our values. 


Acceptance does not mean we passively sit back and simply tolerate whatever comes our way. It’s an active process, a deliberate choice to connect with our experience so that we can continue forward. 


If this all sounds well and good, but a bit too abstract, Dropping Anchor is a great place to begin. Developed by Russ Harris, Dropping Anchor is a three step process summarized by the acronym ACE. 


A: Acknowledge what is showing up


Silently and kindly acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations,  urges – whatever is arising within you. Approach this with curiosity and compassion. What is occurring in my mind? What does this sadness really feel like? How would I describe this tension in my stomach? Try to label your experience – “I’m noticing anger”, “I’m having the thought that I’m a loser”, “There’s a heavy weight on my shoulders”. 


While you are acknowledging what is occurring…


C: Come back into your body


We are not trying to escape our experience, we want to continually acknowledge what is going on within us, and expand our awareness by coming back into the body. You could gently wiggle your fingers, softly push your feet into the floor, slowly roll your shoulders, have a nice stretch, do a little dance, take a deep breath. Notice your posture, straighten your back, massage your scalp. There’s no right answer, experiment with what feels right for you. 


E: Engage in the world around you


Look around. Really look. What do you see? Who are you with? What are you doing? Connect with your environment. Use your senses. What do you hear? Smell? Feel? Continue forward. Do something important. 

If you get swept away, distracted, or disconnected again, repeat the process. Acceptance is a practice. Try Dropping Anchor throughout the day. We can follow these steps just about anytime, anywhere, any place. You could do a quick 30-second version if you catch yourself joyfully daydreaming, or a longer, more structured version if a lot of difficult experiences are arising. 


Learning to accept our experience allows us to learn from our pain and pursue what is most meaningful to us. 

Reach out to Ben Lamm anytime to talk more about this.