By Shannon Elliott
Edited by Chris Myers
As seekers and yogis we have made a commitment to bettering ourselves. We cannot grow on our path without being in a state of acceptance with what is in any given moment. Yoga asks that we embrace the now. We cannot attempt to change what is happening to us. Rather, we can only change how we respond to what is happening to us. We have to let go of the “need” to control or manipulate a situation into what we think would be best. When we accept the present moment, we get the gift to live in a state of pure experience. We do not use acceptance against us as a way to escalate our problems. By accepting and letting go of what we cannot change, we then get the perfect opportunity to begin the practice of Yoga. We use the teachings, the answers given to us by our Teachers, and put our energy into the practice. It gives our energy a creative and empowering place to go take full form. Invest in this moment.
Change is the one constant we can be assured of, i.e., the one thing we can count on to happen. We get stuck when we believe that we can change something or stop something from changing. This is working against the natural flow of life. This is living in the state of struggle. This is living in the problem. If we are serious about our yoga practice then we must be willing to move into living the yogic teachings. What might it be like if instead of resisting or attempting to direct the flow of change we instead step into the experience of an accepting and caring attitude towards ALL change? The teachings tell us it will open us up to the ease and revelation of what there is to do, which is almost always less that what we are currently doing. Ride the wave, go with the flow, and trust the unfolding.
In both states we are not living in acceptance, so the shitty stuff becomes shittier and the happy stuff becomes shitty because we are afraid of losing it.
This brings us a bit into Karma. Karma tells us we cannot change what is happening in this moment. Therefore we must meet each moment where we are. In my experience, not doing this is most of my own suffering. We are unwilling to own our shortcomings, struggles, vulnerabilities, and fears. Our sense of pride and ego (anything we compare ourselves to positively or negatively- simply put, separation) over takes us and we continue to separate ourselves from others because we are unwilling to accept what is happening. We forget our connected nature. If it’s a negative experience, we think it will never end. If it is positive, we live in fear of it ending and hold on white knuckled, grasping for it not to disappear. In both states we are not living in acceptance, so the shitty stuff becomes shittier and the happy stuff becomes shitty because we are afraid of losing it. In any reasonable or kind world this is simply insane. This comes from a lack of trust in the Universe. Our will and ego get in the way, we know best. What is the answer? Get comfortable living in the state of not knowing, you will then accept what is, and easily move through it by riding the wave as opposed to swimming against the current.
Meet yourself where you are. There is no other choice. Your path will continue to lead you back here until you get this. Stop fighting yourself and open up to what is. Be here now and all will come to you. This is the moment. A teacher somewhere in my past would say, “NOW is the entry point into something deeper.” Have faith by placing your heart in the moment, accepting life as it is, and the result will be a shitload less of suffering.
Some examples of where we can practice acceptance:
- Your kids getting up before the sun
- An injury
- You running late
- Someone else running late (a strong trigger of my own)
- Where you are in your asana practice
- The joy (or insert your own positive experience/word here) in any given moment
- The sadness (or insert your own negative experience/word here) in any given moment
Don’t confuse the above with not being able to do anything with it. It reminds us we cannot ever change what is happening in any given moment, so if we accept the present as it is, the answers begin to be revealed to us in how we can transform our stuck places into greater states of freedom and peace.
Breath work to help you connect to a state of acceptance:
- Sit in a comfortable position, on a cushion or blanket cross legged, or in a chair. Make sure your spine is upright. If you are in a chair, make sure your feet connect to the floor.
- Let your hands rest on your thighs, shoulders relaxed. Place your palms down if you feel you need grounding or place your palms up to receive
- Gently close your eyes and begin to feel the breath. Feel the inhales and exhales. Trust in the breath. You know how to breathe so let it be in a state of ease as opposed to straining.
- Notice how you feel as you arrive and connect to the breath.
- As you inhale sweep the arms out to the side and up, only bring the arms up to the degree that supports space in the shoulders, upper back, and neck.
- As you exhale, bring the arms down through the center of the body and allow them to land in prayer position at your heart. Exhale out through the mouth. At the end of the exhale, gently draw the low belly in.
- Allow yourself to experience complete inhales and complete exhales.
- Start slowly feeling the movement with the breath.
- Notice if you get in front of or behind of the breath. Allow the movement of your physical body to ride the wave of the breath.
- Continue this way for a minute or two. Now let yourself really get into the feeling of the breath and the movement, the trust of riding behind the breath, and experiencing this moment as it is, “acceptance.”
- Depending on your energy level you may stay with slow movements or begin to speed it up. Try feeling as opposed to thinking. Play with the speed and trust that you will find your best rhythm.
- Do this for 3-5 minutes once you find your rhythm.