March 21, 2014

Spring Forward? Practice Acceptance, Not Change.


Yoga is a practice of acceptance, not change.

This fundamental truth is something that’s easy to lose sight of—because yoga changes us.

I hop on my mat after being in a week-long funk and my shit just falls away; after struggling and burdening myself with it for days, the simple act of moving my body in and out of yoga poses helps release me from my patterns. It helps me to become unstuck—so that I can move forward.

And moving forward—looking ahead at what the world and our own inner self has to offer—is absolutely looking ahead to change.

While there’s nothing wrong with that, the basic prescription of yoga is to teach the student to be present, right here, right now, and it’s when we’re able to do this that an effective and long-lasting transformation can actually occur because we’ve begun to acknowledge who we are and where we are in this moment.

How many times have we been able to observe objectively, from the outside looking in, that until a person can alleviate their denial of a quality, trait or action—until they can become enlightened to their own authentic truth—that nothing will change for them?

Nothing will shift because they haven’t accepted either who they are or the situation where they sit.

Likewise, it can become more than stale—it can be disgusting—to see pillars of communities, be it yoga or not, come across as utterly perfect. No one is perfect, even Jesus had human flaws, which is exactly why society loves to witness a fallen hero.

A voice can not be wise unless it embraces, showcases and learns from inherent fragile human blemishes—but it’s much more attractive to appear impeccable.

 “Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.”

~ Niels Bohr

The world does not need more phony superheroes preaching from fraudulent pulpits—and the last thing our yoga practice asks from us is to behave this way.

But there are seasons when the last place I want to be is on my mat.

I almost become irritated with the practice and, generally speaking, it’s because I’m irritated with myself.

I kick around the rocky dirt with the toe of my boots and draw unimportant sketches in the gravel—anything to avoid having to brave who’s being reflected back to me in the mirror that day.

Because I’m human, and I’m wildly imperfect.

I have a temper and a dagger-like tongue. I have high expectations, both for myself and for others, and I can be both lazy and aggressive and, surely, I can work on improving these things, but often the adventurous thing to do is stare into the looking glass and notice who is actually gazing back instead of judging against who I wish was there.

So, today, I look in the mirror and I see slightly tired eyes and a mouth that’s ready for laughter. Standing in front of me is someone who I love on her best days, and her not-so-great ones too.

Which brings me to the most wonderful part about acceptance: We can choose to welcome our finest qualities as well—acceptance does not have to equal critique.

I look outside my bedroom window, where I sit cozily bundled up typing. The first day of spring was yesterday, and it’s snowing heavily today. Even mother nature isn’t obsessed with moving forward too quickly simply because we think she should.

And that’s the real thing to consider: How can we be so sure that we’re not already perfect, exactly as we are, if we don’t just sit down, cuddle in—and listen?

“I’m no model lady. A model’s just an imitation of the real thing.”

~ Mae West

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Editor: Travis May

Photos: Elephant Archives


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