You’ve heard a lot of good things about acceptance. About how it can help bring peace, clarity, and less pain. How people who practice acceptance are happier, often more appreciative, and even sometimes healthier.
I recently heard from a woman who spent time daily practicing accepting her whole self, even the cells in her ear that doctors were sure were cancerous. She eventually not only cleared those cells, but also reversed the aging process of the other cells in her ear. No kidding.
The Downside of Acceptance
But there’s a sneaky downside to acceptance, and one that I didn’t realize until recently. It happens this way:
During post-yoga class chat, a woman I’ll call Jane comments to a friend of hers that things in life are just not going well for her, that everything seems to be going wrong, and nothing is going right. Her friend says to her “Yeah, I guess that’s what we’re practicing here in class—how to be able to overcome all of that stuff, and just be with it.”
Jane’s friend makes a valid point. Yoga does teach us how to overcome stuff. In our asana practice, we learn how to be with physical sensation, and get curious about what we feel instead of avoiding it. This way, we begin to operate from a place of strength—able to handle instead of avoid what’s happening on our mat and in our life.
Acceptance in Our Yoga Practice
We learn how to watch our thoughts, and through watching them and not resisting them, watch them pass by instead of get stuck and cause drama. We learn how to notice emotions, and instead of getting caught up for ages in being angry or sad or frustrated, we accept that they’re there and take away their power.
Instead of being dictators, they become guests in the home of our true Self—the part of us that knows we’re the ocean, and the emotions are just waves on our surface.
The Gift of Acceptance
All of this has a peaceful and empowering impact on our life. We learn to live from a place of strength and confidence, knowing we’re able to handle whatever life throws our way because we can handle our biggest challenge: ourselves.
So acceptance is a gift. But it’s not the be-all, end-all. It’s not the jewel in the crown of the lotus. On our way to enlightenment, or living from a place of love, there’s also dharma and destiny.
What Acceptance Teachings Miss
And what Jane’s friend is missing when she says we’re here to be able to overcome all that stuff and just be with it is this: some things are simply not right for us. They’re not in alignment with our dharma or our destiny or why we’re really here.
These things are not things we’re meant to accept. We can practice accepting the physical sensations, thoughts and emotions they cause; but we do this to help ourselves remain in a better state to eventually clear these situations, people, or experiences from our lives.
Jane might be in a relationship, job, or living situation that simply isn’t right for her. And her yoga practice isn’t meant to help her stay there; it can help her find the peace, clarity and strength to navigate her way out.
Practicing acceptance doesn’t mean accepting what isn’t right for you. It doesn’t mean accepting what isn’t in alignment with your dharma and destiny.
5 Things Acceptance is Really Good For
1. Peace in difficult times. Practicing acceptance can help you operate from a calmer place, creating calm in others and the situation.
2. Self-love. Accepting what you feel whenever you feel it not only helps the feelings move through you faster, it boosts your acceptance of your whole self, and who you are.
3. Connection with others. Recognizing your own reactions and accepting them instead of rejecting them means you can do that for other people, too. Goodbye division and disconnection, hello unity and understanding.
4. Flow. Less resistance = more flow. Life is easier.
5. Ishvara Pranidhana. Acceptance is also an act of surrender. In this small way, we let go of focusing on the momentary things and recognize the bigger picture: our greater calling, purpose and dharma.
Practicing acceptance helps us float on the surface of conflict or drama and find ease and peace. But remember that it doesn’t mean you’re meant to accept less than you deserve.
Courtesy of My Yoga Online.