|Practice self-acceptance continues the instructions for tonglen meditation found in slogan 7 and says you should begin the practice with yourself. It’s good to have compassion for others, but you can’t help others unless you can help yourself. Compassion really does begin at home.
The original lojong slogan is: Begin the sequence of sending and taking with yourself, which is just another way of saying practice self-acceptance. Tonglen is about making friends with yourself and transforming your suffering with compassion, but to do that you need to be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling. So the first step is to acknowledge what you’re really feeling and turn towards it rather than trying to avoid your pain or deny it.
Tonglen encourages you to say yes to your experience, no matter how painful it might be. It’s about staying present with yourself and supporting yourself, even when you’re struggling, rather than shutting down your heart. By training yourself to turn towards pain and suffering, you can transform difficult emotions into wisdom and happiness. In that way, pain becomes its own antidote, one that you can share with others.
Apply this slogan to your writing practice by remembering to be kind to yourself. Tonglen reverses your normal way of looking at yourself and asks you to embrace all the things you usually reject and push away. You’ll never become a better version of yourself by beating yourself up.
Whenever you feel stuck or scared or just a little doubtful of the way forward, turn towards that feeling instead of pushing it back into the darkness. As you make friends with yourself, you’ll find it easier to hear and express your true voice as a writer. Not only that, but embracing the full gamut of your emotions will also help you to write deeper and more believable characters.
Exercise: Identify an area where you feel stuck and write in your slogan journal about the feelings that are holding you back.
More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers