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Art & Soul: The Art Of Well Being - Transforming Our Lives With Self-Acceptance

Mother Bear Sanctuary and Retreat Center

This week, "Art and Soul" is about the art of well being. WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with local teacher, author, and ecotherapist Barbra White, who has written several books and teaches about self-acceptance. She explains how "what we accept transforms and what we resist persists" and how self-acceptance empowers choices to improve our lives.


Lisa Barry: You're listening to eighty nine one WEMU. This is Art and Soul. I'm Lisa Barry, and, this week, Art and Soul is about the art of well-being. And there's a local teacher, author, and ecotherapist who joins us now. Welcome, Barbra White. Great to talk to you. 

Credit Barbra White
Barbra White

Barbra White: Hi, Lisa. Hi, everyone. Thank you for having me on your program. 

Lisa Barry: I feel like there's so much you and I could talk about, but we're going to talk about self-acceptance, something you've written several books about. And why don't we begin with what does that even mean? Self-acceptance? 

Barbra White: Self-acceptance is embracing all parts of ourselves. And like many things, it sounds fundamentally simple, but it's a practice. And "what we accept transforms what we resist persists"--a famous quote by the psychologist Carl Jung. And self-acceptance really empowers choice. I think that's something that when someone really grasps that, that what they don't accept or what they don't face within themselves or what they don't feel within themselves that they're repressing, it ultimately is going to have control over your choices. That famous Judeo-Christian quote. "Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do." Because without self-acceptance, we don't have choice. Without the awareness combined with radical self-acceptance, it does the opposite of what our mind thinks, because what we're trying to repress is ultimately going to come out in our words, our behavior, and come out in our vibe of people around us because they can feel. They can feel for not being authentic. And when we're in radical self-acceptance, we bring forth an authenticity in the world that people really resonate and are drawn to. So, self-acceptance not only helps you to feel happy, but it really allows you the foundation to let people in your life and have healthy connections. 

Lisa Barry: So, say someone's driving, listening to this interview or at home making dinner, and you just mentioned repressing things. And how does anyone know what they're even repressing to begin with or what that means? 

Barbra White: Anything that we deny, repress, or project, we have to combine radical self-acceptance with self=-responsibility. So that means I'm responsible for what I feel. My happiness is a skill, a skill set that I can cultivate. And radical self acceptance combined with radical self responsibility, which means no one has the power to reach in my body to make me feel a certain way that when the traffic gets stopped and I get angry, that's my choice. That's an energy within me. It's like if you squeeze an orange and orange juice comes out, that juice was within the orange. Now, with that being said, there's a level of repressed energy or repressed pain or trauma collectively, especially in people of color and within women, it's called trauma. So, we can have things in our external environment that bring up that pain within us. But to feel the anxiety, it's not normal to be worried all the time. It's not normal to be fatigued all the time. It's not normal to constantly be triggered by external environment, although, unfortunately, that's become most people's normal in our our very doo doo doo doo doo society and very disconnected from the earth and each other and community. And, you know, I think, a study the other day, I heard that 60 percent of people live alone, and most households or only two or three people, and this pathological individualism and loneliness, so these are not normal. These are things that we can affect change in, and it's not change outside of us. But being able to love ourselves, take radical responsibility, and understand that there's this collective trauma within our body, our pain that we're also unwinding. That isn't our fault. It is not our fault. That's a huge, huge thing. That part of the antithesis of self-acceptance, if you well, is shame and guilt. And so it's not our fault that we have these pains within us, but it is 100 percent in this repressed energy or also called trauma in our body, but it is 100 percent in our capacity to be able to look at it and feel it and and to resource ourselves in that as well. Because when we realize that the tree does not receive nutrients or water and call it weak, that we need to resource ourselves as well with asking for help and mentors and therapists. We're really becoming aware of it and how it's in our body that causes us to be so reactive. I mean, you look at social media and you look at what's going on, we're so reactive. But to bring soothing energy to that or to feel that, if you will, is self-acceptance and radical self-responsibility and to understand that energy within it's all, it's not your fault that we all have this stuff within us. We need to heal these repressed energies, this trauma. And I think it's getting out there that we all need that support. 

Lisa Barry: Are there steps you can list for self-acceptance, for radical self-acceptance? You mentioned some things in passing. And being responsible for what we feel. I think that was huge, what you said. But for those listening who think, "Hmm, maybe this is me and maybe I do need to explore this more." What would be the steps that they would follow for self-acceptance? 

Barbra White: The first step would be willingness. We have to open the mind, open the heart, and many of us aren't, even if we have stuff happening in our world that is giving a solution. If we're not willing to open our mind, then we really can't open the heart. So, start with an affirmation or prayer, if you will. I'm willing to see this differently. I'm willing to love myself. I'm willing to see or even see myself with kindness and see others with kindness. Because how we do one thing is how we do everything. And if I am kind towards myself, I'm naturally going to be kind to others. And if I'm critical towards myself, I'm naturally going to be critical to others. The beautiful thing is that you take that first step of saying, "I'm willing to be kind to myself. I'm willing to be loving. I'm willing to see this differently." To have that miracle and to shift the perception just one degree difference where you go from thinking that everyone is against you and it's your fault to really feeling that life is for you and there's a wisdom within you. And then, second step is to just become aware with compassion of what you're actually thinking and feeling. Journaling is an excellent tool not to figure things out, but don't ever approach to figure it out because it's saying we're trapped in the mind. And then the third step would be to get out into nature, to go on a nature walk for 20 minutes. Even if you live in a city park, let nature help you and let it soothe you into really seeing a broader view of yourself that you're not all your conditions and circumstances. You're not what people think of you. You're not how much you have in your bank account. You're not how much people please. There's a beautiful you that wants to emerge. There's an amazing you that wants to come in here, and that you is already there. That you that's never born and never dies. That you that's always within you, and that you. It's beyond. The saying goes, "If you try to find yourself in this world, you're going to lose yourself." Because that you is the you that's untouched by the world, that really waits for you to discover it. And it's just covered up with a bunch of mud. But the mud is the lotus flower to really realizing that broader you. 

Lisa Barry: So you've created this community healing space called Mother Bear Sanctuary. Tell us about that and what's coming up there. 

Barbra White: This is a 15-year dream come true. It is a teaching sanctuary that we do women's work and men's work. We have Divine Feminine Shamans, which is a women's body based self-acceptance group. We host events there. We have our grand opening October 30th, which is African dance and yoga and workshops by myself and Dave Tuscany. That's men's work--the Mankind Project. We also have Sanity Band. And then November 20th, we have "Embodiment, Sexuality, and Intimacy," an incredible day retreat by Dave Tuscany and myself. So, that's all coming up at Mother Bear Sanctuary. 

Lisa Barry: And we'll put a link to that with this interview on our website, WEMU dot org. Barbra White, I feel like we have so much more we could talk about, but I'm grateful that we've had this opportunity for you to talk to us here for Art and Soul on eighty nine one WEMU. 

Barbra White: Thank you so much, Lisa, for having me. And thank you for those who took the time to listen. May you be kind to yourself and others today. Peace and blessing.


**Special thanks to Paul Keller for providing the Art & Soul theme music.**

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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