How to Practice Ukeireru, the Japanese Art of Acceptance Through Awareness

How to Practice Ukeireru, the Japanese Art of Acceptance Through Awareness
Photo: Sean Pavone, Shutterstock

Acknowledging that something took (or is taking) place can be relatively straightforward, but accepting it is another thing completely. For example, most people can (probably) agree that we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, but not everyone is accepting it to the point of being on-board with all the recommended public health measures. Anyway, most of us could probably use a little help when it comes to acceptance, and the Japanese concept of “ukeireru” may help. Here’s what you should know.

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What is ukeireru?

In an article for mindbodygreen, Dr. Scott Haas, a clinical psychologist, writes about the Japanese concept of “ukeireru.” Though there are many Japanese words for acceptance with different nuanced meanings, Haas says his favourite is this one for ukeireru, courtesy of Yumi Obinata, an interpreter in Tokyo: “Used by a mother with a child to accept something gently, fun to imagine inside oneself, accepting reality.”

How to practice ukeireru

Haas points out that ukeireru can be applied in situations other than mother-child interactions. Here’s what to understand about the practice:

Ukeireru means much more than self-acceptance. It means acceptance of our relationships in our families, in school, at work, and in our communities. It means accepting others. It means accepting reality and creating contexts that broaden the narrow, confining, and exhausting perspective of Self.

The plan is to accept yourself, your family, your friends, your colleagues, and your community.

The idea here is that once you start to truly accept others, you’ll have a better understanding of their point of view — especially helpful when it’s different from your own. There is also an element of self-awareness, Haas says, noting that “if you’re not self-aware, and you lack a state of calm self-awareness, you won’t be able to change things — especially not the conditions that created or contributed to stress in the first place.”

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