I'm an admirer of Jeff Warren's guided meditations on my iPhone's Calm app. Here's how a recent offering from Warren starts out. I liked it a lot.
His tar metaphor is great. When I react to a problem in my life with a strong negative emotion, it does indeed feel like I'm covered in a black sticky substance that makes it difficult to see what's going on with any sort of clarity.
But notice that Warren says we shouldn't fight what's happening. Rather, we need to accept everything both inside and outside of us.
The less we fight, and simply deal with the situation as calmly as possible, the less tar we get on ourselves.
What is acceptance?
Hi, I'm Jeff.
So, acceptance is a technical term in meditation, similar to equanimity. When we meditate, we notice a sensation, or a sound, or a feeling, and then we accept that it's present.
We don't do what most of us do reflexively, all the time. Which is, we subtly interfere with sounds, and feelings, and sensations.
We block what we don't like, and we grab on to what we do. Doing both of these feeds a pattern of reactivity that actually amplifies our suffering in the moment.
It's a bit like wrestling with a blob of tar. The more we fight, the more tar we get on ourselves. All of a sudden we're running through life in a flailing tar-covered freakout.
We can't get a clear view of any situation because we're flopping tar everywhere.
Plus, we're wearing tar-smeared sunglasses. Our friends are like, "Hey buddy, what do you think of this?" And we're like, "Tar, tar, tar, tar, tar." We only speak tar.
I say this, by the way, as someone who has spent a lot of my life flailing around in a tar-covered freakout. We all have. So fixated on our thing, that we miss all the cues happening around us.
What's the alternative?
The alternative is taking a breath, finding our poise, and allowing everything to be there. Then, from that place, we act. No tar.
That's acceptance. It deserves the hype.