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Acceptance: why we all need to work on this sometimes

I have been enjoying playing with a new theme in our yoga practice each month, but for June I was hesitant on what to choose. It was easy when you all told me what you were working to achieve: strengthen the upper body, breath awareness, balance, core strengthening etc., however this month I found it difficult to choose. I was thinking of a bind, spine twist, or even a fancy-pansy peak pose, but none of these themes got me excited or resonated with me.

It was not till I found myself in a long crying session alone on a Friday night, with my eyes red and swollen, trying to accept things that I am personally struggling with, that this month's theme hit me. I stay healthy, I work hard, help others as much as I can, am present for family and friends, and yet I get dealt cards I am struggling to play. It will sound funny, but that is when it hit me and an obvious theme for the month of June was clear: Acceptance.

We are all working in different areas of our lives to accept challenging situations. Whether it’s dealing with the limitations of your body, the level of your yoga practice, health issues, a wedding dress not making it to your big day, or any other circumstances you are facing. We will focus on bringing light to it and dimming its power over us. No struggle or challenge is too small or unimportant if it matters to you.

Acceptance does not mean passively allowing life and its struggles to just take over us, but to acknowledge the situation and then acting to find ways to feel better and not allow that struggle to gloom our days. To say it a little better, I quote Massimo Pigliucci in his book “The stoic guide to a happy life”:

“Some things are entirely up to you, while other things are not entirely up to you. It’s surprising to realise what falls into each category. Entirely up to you are your considered judgements, your opinions, your goals, your adopted values and your decisions to act or not to act - in essence, what you decide upon after reflection and deliberation. Not entirely up to you is pretty much everything else, but especially your body, your relationships, your career, your reputation, and your wealth - in essence, things you can influence but the outcome of which also depends on others.”

Acceptance is a process, not a perfect or easy one. Often the way we discover acceptance is by taking a deeper look and recognising the things we cannot change whilst finding what we can improve. Acceptance is an active process. It must be practised. Acceptance does not mean liking, wanting, choosing, or supporting the situation we struggle with. Acceptance doesn't mean that you can't work on changing things and it certainly doesn't mean you're accepting it's going to be that way forever. Acceptance does not mean complacency or giving up.

We can accept something while at the same time trying to make it better. If we don’t accept what’s true about ourselves or reality, we will not see it clearly. And if we do not see it clearly, we will be less able to deal with it to make it better.

Through yoga we are going to work on accepting the cards life is dealing us. We will work to build strength in the mind and the body, and as we bring light to the matter, we also learn to shift our perception into acceptance.

I invite you to start your classes this month, by setting an intention of acceptance and saying internally “I accept and I’m grateful for” whatever it is that you are working through. Allow the movement and the breath to guide you to your answers. Some examples of how you might start your practice:

  • I accept and I’m grateful for my body

  • I accept and I’m grateful for the challenging colleague at work that tests my temper and practice compassion towards what he/she is going through

  • I accept and I’m grateful for how my body functions as it has brought me to where I am

  • I accept and I’m grateful for how my body looks as it has kept me healthy.

  • I accept and I’m grateful for my mind as it has protected me through tough times

Let us use our yoga practice to accept all the challenges. Use our breath to calm down the mind so that we can create space for acceptance.

Thank you for being part of this journey. You are one of the main reasons I keep showing up. Please don’t give up, even when those challenges make it hard to deal with or accept.

The serenity prayer for you to ponder upon.

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