Being human is like riding the Hot Mess Express.
It is a twisted, tangled tango. It is an adorable, fluffy cat—with sharp claws—gnawing at my back.
I’m not really sure it’s supposed to be any other way. And once I can accept this truth with some grace, I believe I can embody the art of being human—the art of learning how to accept the mess and express it with some dazzling elegance.
This past weekend, I spent two full days in meditation. Deep meditation is always like a magnifying glass, allowing me to witness so many patterns that I desire to dodge and sprint away from.
When I first started this weekend retreat, I felt super grounded, clearheaded, and enthusiastic. By the end of the retreat, I felt messy and confused. My resentment toward this outcome only created more somatic and emotional tension within me.
I believe I had this experience because of the expectation I was holding onto: what I should feel like after I meditate or participate in this type of experience. I actually reversed the effects of meditation because I was so attached to the idealized results.
I did not accept the messiness with elegance. I did not cultivate art in the moment. It wasn’t until I realized I needed to accept all of the ickiness that I was feeling that I even felt the inspiration to write this.
Life becomes a fine piece of work when we learn how to accept life on life’s terms and accept ourselves exactly the way we are. The only thing blocking our masterpiece is judgement and expectation. Judgement keeps energy from flowing and working its unique, colorful miracles. Expectations—like how we’re supposed to feel—not only block those miracles from showing up but they also become the building blocks for resentment.
Even though we want to resist how we feel or how we express ourselves in particular moments, we need to trust that each moment is expressing itself with divine perfection for our soul’s evolutionary process. Being at peace does not mean that we will always feel peace. Being at peace means having unconditional acceptance of who we are in any given moment. Being at peace means trusting that underneath everything we’re not initially fond of is actually utter brilliance—a rich, expansive, open canvas.
We cause ourselves so much unnecessary suffering when we don’t accept ourselves as we are in each moment. There’s a good ol’ saying that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” I believe that suffering is birthed in this frequency of non-acceptance.
I also believe in the intrinsic strength and power within me—within all humans. We so often forget that this power is also available to us in our vulnerability. In fact, it’s even more so available in those moments because it is offering us the greatest opportunity to not resist ourselves and to find self-love.
Self-acceptance and self-love are so radical and challenging for most of us because of the expectations we place on ourselves—it can really hurt not to live up to them at every moment. It’s inspiring to have visions of who we have the potential to become, but what’s important is who we are now. Without self-love, we can never melt into our soul’s full capacity; and this capacity is our basic goodness.
When we reject our naked essence and treat it as if it’s bad or wrong, we are forgetting ourselves. And this self-rejection creates a tornado-esque vortex, wreaking havoc on our consciousness and hiding our truth. Momentary acceptance is how we unlock the heavy doors that seem to be blocking the sunlight of our eternal goodness.
Carl Rodgers states, “The curious paradox is when I accept myself just as I am, then I change.” When we open up to a healing path, old patterns begin to naturally bubble up to the surface in order to be accepted and transmuted into the light. Darkness is really unripe consciousness, like a green banana wanting to transform into a bright yellow one; the sunlight of acceptance allows the banana to ripen to its most vibrant state of being.
When we have a strong aversion to who we are in the moment, we keep ourselves from ripening. Embracing ourselves, no matter how far we fall under our extraordinarily high ideals, allows us to continue to evolve into our most open and expansive version of ourselves.
When we accept ourselves and open up to our basic goodness, it does not mean that we instantly feel like a damn rock star. It does mean that we are taking strides to blaze forth in confidence.
We can keep making the choice to reject the sometimes incredibly painful experience of being human, or we can allow the universe to paint a colorful canvas out of these messy emotions. We can embody the art of being human by accepting what arises with grace. Shambala teacher Chögyam Trungpa states:
“For the warrior, every moment is a challenge to be genuine, and each challenge is delightful. When you let go properly, you can relax and enjoy the challenge.”
I believe that acceptance of what is is the purest form of love—it is a miracle and the healer of all. How that healing occurs doesn’t need to make sense. Unconditional love floods the heart like Niagara Falls and opens us up to who we are and who we were from the very start: one eternal spirit, bodies made out of stars.
The goal of my existence is to be able to remember this as much as possible. And when I don’t remember, there again is another gift, another opportunity to accept myself for being human.
My intention is to relax into myself—into all of my flaws, quirks, and “unacceptable” qualities, and to be able to witness them with a mature, loving presence.
My hope is to allow humor, instead of rejection, to bubble up when mad, neurotic patterns arise.
My desire is to create art out of the suffering—not to wish for it to go away, or to wish for a pain-free existence. That would be ignorance. I want to turn tears into glitter and resistance into love.
The greatest masterpiece of life is learning how to hold everything that we’ve been taught is unacceptable within the spiritual vision of understanding and a warm, welcoming hug.
This is the art of being human.
Bonus: The One Buddhist Red Flag to Look out for.
Author: Mallory Bales
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton