September 25, 2018 Practice Management

Mindfulness 101: Mindfulness and the Power of Acceptance

By Melanie Bragg

This month I want to share my recent experiences in the area of attaining a deeper recognition of the power of acceptance and how it can really benefit us.

According to Wikipedia, “Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition without attempting to change it or protest it.”

As we incorporate the practice of mindfulness into our daily lives—as when we exercise, follow a healthy diet, and do all the things we know we need to do in order to have balance—we get those moments where we realize how far we have come. It is so cool when this happens. It makes you want to delve into the process more because there is so much to be gained.

In Deepak Chopra’s Creating Abundance Meditation Day 11, he describes the process:

The universe is an elegantly orchestrated symphony. When our body/mind is in concert with the universe, everything becomes spontaneous and effortless, and the exuberance of the universe flows through us in joyful ecstasy. This is the essence of the Law of Least Effort—trusting that everything in the universe is as it should be in perfect harmony. Knowing this, we dance to the rhythm of the cosmos, living life in comfort and ease, shedding the belief that abundance is the result of struggle. The Law of Least Effort tells us that we can do less and accomplish more, but first we must practice acceptance. The more readily you accept the circumstances of your life as they are in this moment, the easier your life becomes. When you struggle against this moment, you are actually struggling against the entire universe, and while you may have the intention for your life to change in some way, accepting it as it is right now places you in the best position to attain your goals.

I love the Law of Least Effort. It is something that can help you produce more and do more with ease. It doesn’t happen magically. You have to do the work by meditating daily and by really getting in touch with the present moment. Being in the present completely shifts your reality. I want to share a recent example from my life that illustrates what Deepak describes.

Last summer I got one of my first real lessons in how far I had come with the power of acceptance and the Law of Least Effort. I was on my way back from New York City on a Thursday afternoon. Earlier that morning I had paid the change fee to get an earlier flight home. By the time I arrived at La Guardia, there were thunderstorms. We boarded the plane on time but ended up sitting on the tarmac for more than five hours! It was the first time anything like that had happened to me. Now, the “old” me would have been anxious and stressed, but instead I just sat there calmly and without any extra anxiety. I completely and totally accepted the situation as it was. It felt so good to have that peace of mind, and I really noticed and enjoyed it. I was happy—if you have read the book The Telomere Effect, you know that the less inner chaos and stress you have, the longer you will live.

There was a woman behind me who was just the opposite. She could not handle it, she had appointments to get to, the exact same thing everyone on the plane had, but she was so out of hand it was unreal. She got on her phone and started calling the airline. She completely drained her phone battery and then asked everyone for their power source! What she didn’t realize was that as long as we were on the tarmac and on the plane, the airlines could not do anything for us because we were still technically on the flight. She made a tough situation all the more difficult for herself by her lack of acceptance. I sat there thinking that she was really shortening her telomeres. . . .

Things then went from bad to worse: The weather finally cleared up and they got us back to the gate, but by then the crew had “timed out.” I had never heard of that, but the crew had to change over because they had gone over time—and there was no other crew. We were informed that on a holiday weekend our flight was “not” canceled, but rescheduled to the next morning, that all the airport hotels were booked, and that we had to just go find a hotel somewhere or sleep in the airport. Simple as that. No help. No advice. We were excused. I was lucky that the Marriott Hotel I had just left in Times Square helped me find a reasonable one in Queens, and I, still very calm, accepted it and took my $60 Uber ride over to Queens, checked in, ordered Chinese food, and convinced myself that this was an adventure. I had to get up at 4:00 am to get my flight the next day. I saw many of the folks from the day before and befriended the woman who sat next to the woman behind me who had been on the phone. We exchanged comments about her lack of acceptance, and it turns out she had gotten on everyone’s last nerve! I actually felt compassion for her because she was who I was before I began the road to mindfulness.

The epilogue to this story came the week before last, when I was scheduled to go to New York City again and also coming home on Thursday. This time I had to be home on Friday, and Hurricane Florence was headed toward the East Coast. I was in the Uber to the airport when I realized that I did not want to be put in that same situation again on Thursday. I called and canceled my trip and did the New York meeting by phone. My Uber driver got two rides out of me, one there and one back. The “old” me would have just gone ahead, but the “new” me knows that it would be very easy for things to get dicey weather-wise that week and knows my capacity to deal with stress. In both instances my practice of acceptance and mindfulness led me in the right direction. The good news is two days later I received an apologetic e-mail from the airline that offered me cash or miles. How is that for doing the right thing? 

I want to really be honest here. You never “arrive” at a place of mindfulness and stay there permanently. Life has its constant stresses, especially in our culture today. Mindfulness is a process. While I may have conquered my stress fully that one day on the tarmac or in the Uber, the state of mindfulness must be continually maintained and cultivated. The good news is I have seen the fruits of my efforts in many ways, and I am so excited to get to share the progress with you every couple of months. There is always something new in our lives to conquer. I hope that you are encouraged to be present and powerful as you deal with the stresses in your life.

Until next time . . . namaste. Please let me know if you have any tips, sources, or experiences with mindfulness you want to share at melanie@bragglawpc.com.

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”—Zen proverb

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Melanie Bragg has long enjoyed a reputation as one of Houston’s fiercest attorneys in her representation of children, the elderly, and mentally disadvantaged people. Her firm, Bragg Law PC, is a general civil firm in Houston, Texas. She also writes and produces legal education programs through Legal Insight, Inc. (founded by Bragg in 1993). Her writing credits include Crosstown Park, an Alex Stockton legal thriller; HIPAA for the General Practitioner; chapters in How to Capture and Keep Clients, Second Edition; Effortless Marketing: Putting Your Unique Qualities to Work, Second Edition; and The Conscious Lawyer: How the Practice of Mindfulness Will Increase Your Bottom Line; as well as the forthcoming ABA book, Defining Moments: Insights into the Lawyer’s Soul. When she is not writing, Melanie devotes her time to her work as Chair of the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice (GPSolo) Division and to sharing ideas with fellow authors. She is interested in your feedback and ideas about how solos, small firms, military, and government lawyers can lead richer, happier lives and thereby improve the delivery of legal services to the public. Melanie can be reached at melanie@bragglawpc.com.