Acceptance is a loaded concept, at least it’s always been for me. In the past, when a well-meaning friend or family member would counsel me to accept a situation that was clearly upsetting and disturbing for me, I was indignant! My belief system was such that acceptance meant that I was either giving up, being walked all over, or I was pretending to be “fine” when I absolutely was not. Or it could be interpreted as something even worse: my acceptance of something that most would deem unacceptable would show that I was weak! I was proud of myself for being a fighter, for working hard and clawing my way above expectations. Accept being defeated? Accept things I didn’t like? Hell no! I was ready to put up my dukes and start fighting, and fight I did. Alas, after decades of resistance to and struggling with Reality, most of which I carried internally as self-inflicted misery, I learned a much deeper way of interpreting what acceptance means, and it has changed my life!
Today, the way I define acceptance is a willingness to let go of my idea of how circumstances should be showing up and objectively seeing reality as it is showing up. While to some this may sound passive, it’s not necessarily so. For example, let’s say you didn’t get a specific job that you just knew was perfect for you. If you choose to resist this Reality, that might mean you blame the person who was foolish enough not to hire you, or you resent the job applicant who was selected, or you might even begin bad-mouthing the organization that didn’t hire us and start a boycott of their products and services. Some of us will go to ridiculous lengths to prove that Reality is wrong and our idea of how things are supposed to be is right!
On the other hand, acceptance allows us to see things as they actually are, how Reality is showing up. It doesn’t mean we accept defeat by laying down and doing nothing because we’ve accepted it. Instead, we give ourselves the time and space to feel the sadness, disappointment, and even heartbreak that comes with Reality. This could be a very short period of time, but it might take longer, especially when we’re beginners at this practice. In our employment example, once you’ve taken the time to accept the Reality of not getting the first job, you get back up and start looking for a new position! Now, you’ll be looking for your next job with more clarity and less angst.
Acceptance of a situation does not mean it’s desirable or morally acceptable. Acceptance means being emotionally aligned with what is, however, it doesn’t mean you like it or that you won’t do something to change it.
We all have times of deep sadness, tragedy, and loss in our lives. During these periods of grief, prayer, and meditation help carry me through. And breathe, always breathe. The tools of yoga reliably support me when I cannot hold myself up.
Applying this principle of acceptance in our lives is not a knee-jerk reaction, especially where family members are concerned, or even the horrific tragedies we’ve been confronted with as Americans over recent years.
So, keep it simple, begin slowly, and ease your way into this aspect of yoga. Maybe practice with traffic or your neighbor’s dog barking. “I accept the situation as it is, even though I don’t like it” Can you let go of the idea that the light should be green, that the driver ahead of you should obey the speed limit, or that the dog next door should stop barking? Reality isn’t out to get you, it simply is.
As a beginner, with consistent practice, your acceptance muscle with get stronger. Before you know it, you’ll be able to navigate the bigger challenges life gives us, with clear eyes and objective focus. The change we wish to see in the world…, it starts with you, it starts with me.
Acceptance of the unacceptable is the greatest source of strength in this world – Eckart Tolle
If you are currently dealing with grief and loss, or even a loss that occurred decades ago that you haven’t fully grieved, please consider attending our “Create New Beginnings Healing Retreat” with Keely and Deanna on June 17th. Retreat Link
And if you’re interested in learning more about how the tools of yoga can help you find more joy and fulfillment in your life, join us for a free info session about our Yoga Teacher Training on Saturday, June 3rd at 11 am. Info Session Link