This week: How Mohini The White Tiger Taught us about Acceptance
Since last week, the word “tiger” popped up everywhere in my senses. I’ve been watching an intriguing documentary called “Tiger King” on Netflix, which offered an exploration of big cat breeding underworld and numerous scandals. Often, its bizarre characters and mind-boggling lifestyle left me speechless. (Picture source here)
“Joe Exotic, the main character of Tiger King”
Coincidentally, last night, I read a story about a white tiger named Mohini on Tara Brach‘s “Radical Acceptance”.
Tara Brach is a renowned meditation teacher and psychologist. She told Mohini’s story as below:
“Mohini was a regal white tiger who lived for many years at the Washington D.C. National Zoo. For most of those years her home was in the old lion house—a typical twelve-by-twelve-foot cage with iron bars and a cement floor. Mohini spent her days pacing restlessly back and forth in her cramped quarters. Eventually, biologists and staff worked together to create a natural habitat for her. Covering several acres, it had hills, trees, a pond and a variety of vegetation. With excitement and anticipation they released Mohini into her new and expansive environment. But it was too late. The tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound, where she lived for the remainder of her life. Mohini paced and paced in that corner until an area twelve by twelve feet was worn bare of grass.”
Is Your Mental Space a “Cage”?
Mohini’s tragedy reminded me of how our mind can be an imaginary cage. This cage is constructed with fear, anxiety, and unworthiness. For instance, on a daily basis, we might find ourselves in at least one of the following “trances”:
- Constantly judge ourselves and only notice the evidence of how we’ve failed;
- Feel restless and are always “DOING MORE” with a notion of “I’m not good enough”;
- Play small and safe, not trusting we CAN ask for more from life;
- Giving away our powers so we become the “victim” and feel less responsible.
No doubt, the cage protects and shelters us. It has worked for many years, just as Mohini’s iron cage. However, when we ONLY identify ourselves as “the one in the cage”, we forget our true magnificent being. We become oblivious of the freedom and options we have. By the end, like Mohini, we might end up only living from a small confined state of being, when we could’ve roar free for a world of adventure and discovery!
In “Radical Acceptance”, after quoting Mohini’s story, Tara said:
“The way out of our cage begins with accepting absolutely everything we are feeling about ourselves and our lives, by embracing with wakefulness and care our moment-to-moment experience.”
Accepting absolutely everything, that’s truly radical, isn’t it? 😉
Acceptance means we become aware of our real experiences without judging and controlling. This, of course, doe not mean we condone harmful behaviors or give in to negative beliefs. Here is a simple example:
You’re working on a project with your colleague, who has made a mistake and caused a huge delay in the progress. Naturally, you’re annoyed and frustrated. You’re judging the colleague for their mistake AND yourself for “not seeing it coming”(Judgement towards others and self often go hand-in-hand). On top of that, you’re also judging your own “judging behavior” with comments like “I shouldn’t think like this”, “I’m such a judgemental person”. Without realizing, you spend lots of energy fueling the negative emotions instead of helping with the situation.
100% acceptance happens when you feel your negative emotion without resisting it. You can try:
- Acknowledge the emotion: “Ah, I am feeling frustrated”. Notice there might be a tightening on your body. Try to sit with that sensation even though it’s uncomfortable.
- Know that feeling comes and goes.
- If you catch yourself judging, acknowledge that too. “I’m not perfect, but I’m learning”.
- Offer a discernment if that helps you to move on.
By allowing yourself to feel, you dismantle the negative blaming cage. Out of the cage, there is a space of curiosity and possibility. You get curious about what happened with the colleague and work on how to continue with the project together.
Trust Your Buddha Nature
Inside each of us lies the Buddha nature to see what is happening and to care about others. Even for those strange characters in “Tiger King”, it’s clear that beyond all the chaos and mayhem, each of them was desperately trying to be accepted and to feel belong.
When we learn to trust ourselves and accept our imperfection, we cease to be at war with ourselves and others. We live with peace and grace.
Request a free consultation with me to talk about your fears, life, relationships, or spiritual journey. It’s 100% confidential and you’ll get answers about how coaching with me can help you and will be able to assess whether it is a good fit for your needs.