This month I have been thinking about acceptance. Acceptance is one of the gateways to the heart. It’s the passport to freedom. Only when you accept yourself and the moment just as it is in all of its beauty and chaos can you rest easefully in your heart.
I’m not talking about the everyday variety of acceptance. I’m talking about deep, rich, pure acceptance, which always brings you back to the moment and back to your heart.
In pure acceptance, you are able to let go of regret and disappointment. Hidden within acceptance is forgiveness. Forgiveness is necessary to be able accept fully. Real forgiveness is the capacity to forgive the unforgivable. Until you reach this level of forgiveness you live under the burden of resentment. Pure forgiveness releases the burden from you and fills you with ease, spaciousness, and freedom.
But it’s not always possible to forgive right away. Forgiveness takes time to integrate. If you’re not able to forgive right away, can you be okay with that? Forgiveness comes in stages. Unless you’ve integrated and dealt with the judgment, anger, resentment, and betrayal that underlies the inability to forgive, you will have premature forgiveness. Honor yourself. Accept yourself for the time it takes to integrate and move through the steps necessary to reach full forgiveness. Create healthy self-boundaries. But be clear of the difference between setting appropriate healthy boundaries and pure forgiveness. Can you set the boundary and also forgive fully? This is the work of acceptance.
There are two kinds of acceptance. Passive acceptance and active acceptance. Passive acceptance is mixed with apathy and complacency. Often you accept the situation but you do nothing about it. Usually in this type of acceptance, you have strands of regret, judgment, or resentment mixed in. You accept the situation or yourself, but you know its not really what lights you up. It’s not full.
Active acceptance moves you toward positive action and change.
Recently I taught in Indianapolis and stayed in a beautiful home about 9 miles from the studio. This commute, although only 9 miles away, had many traffic lights. I was told it took only 25 minutes, but in reality it took 35-40 minutes depending on traffic. For the first two days I was aware of how much I was resisting this commute. In my mind I was saying, “I could be doing my practices during this time. I had to rush my morning routine in order to drive in traffic. This is a waste of my time. I’m never doing this again”, etc, etc. I was in my own self-made prison resisting and not wanting to accept the situation.
Paraphrasing Albert Einstein â€œThe goal of all human life is to free ourselves from our self-made prison of the mind.” I was imprisoning myself for 35 minutes twice a day! On the third day, I realized what I was doing. I took a deep breath and let go. I accepted the situation and instantly felt my heart soften. I relaxed into “this is how it is and it’s okay.” I returned to the easeful place of calm abiding in my heart. I smiled and said to myself, “That was easy.” I chose to do pranayama and mantra chanting while driving (safely). I actually came to enjoy the commute.
Pure acceptance is a powerful force, a strength that centers you back into your heart. The blessing of acceptance is love. When you accept yourself, love rushes into your experience. When you accept others, you invite them into a space of pure love where they return to their calm abiding self deep inside their heart. Acceptance is one of the greatest gifts you can give to someone.
May you practice the art of pure self-acceptance and acceptance of others while creating healthy self-boundaries and positive change in your life and in the lives of others.