January 25, 2013

What Can We Do When Acceptance Isn’t Easy?

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Sometimes acceptance is easy, when the sun is out and the bed feels warm.

Other times it taunts, with the meanness of the kids on the playground and the same innocence.

Do most people go out of their way to hurt others?

I don’t think so. I think most of us go out of our way to try to avoid the hurt we don’t want to feel, to turn from the fear we cannot face, to hold our hearts in a space where we feel safe.

Today I subbed in a yoga class.

The students loved what I did last time so the teacher asked me to teach again. Today I felt as though I did not please my students, try as I might to connect and read the class and the individuals in the class, I felt I failed.

I failed because though I gave them a fun and challenging class, I don’t feel they felt it, inside.

Moving the body around in poses, finding the alignment, and teaching it, that’s the easy part, once you understand it. It takes time to learn but I have been teaching a while and a lot. It wasn’t always easy.

But connecting to the pulse of the class, finding the heart and meeting the energy so I can help it move, help the hearts to open, that’s the hard part.

My heart was there. I did my best to connect.

I walked in with heaviness but I put on my party face, I adjusted my energy, I joked, I approached students individually and spoke to the class as a whole. I reached out and met a wall.

Maybe that class is the mirror I cannot face.

Maybe I am not listening to my own heart.

Maybe my fear is telling jokes I cannot hear because the punchline would make me double over.

Maybe the most important thing I can offer, my heart, is not beating loudly enough for others to hear.

I understand acceptance, to talk about it. I think the most important thing I can offer my students is my acceptance so they can accept what they can and cannot do, inside and out.

We all need to learn to listen to the self. The asana practice of yoga is a great paradigm for learning just that, for realizing how we are all different and how we are all alike.

I know we all struggle and as unique as each struggle is to the person there are a few universals:

We struggle when we cannot accept who we are and what life offers.

We struggle by grasping what we want and not knowing how to enjoy what we have.

We struggle pushing away the feelings, circumstances and people, we don’t know how to embrace.

We struggle when we put care on a shelf and won’t bother.

Accepting acceptance sounds easy. But to me it is moment-by-moment challenge.

“to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.” ~ Ellen Bass

So my challenge is to face the face I keep turning from for fear the portrait might be a Dorian Grey.

My challenge is to accept what I can, and cannot accept, and know though different maybe the root is the same.

My challenge to nurture the care that informs all I do so I can keep caring.

Acceptance in my heart needs to marry hope as I find my way, from day to day, class to class, whether the sun shines or whether it rains, whether I get what I want, and even when life feels like one steep hill I cannot quite climb because if I get to the top I might not make it back.

Ed: Kate Bartolotta
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