As a behaviorist I am all about change. I seek it out and relish the challenge of goal setting. I love lists, homework, charts, and accountability. Identify the problem- Develop a plan was stressed in my training. But there is this tricky other step that can't be ignored. It is so essential that no matter how fabulous the plan, it will be derailed if we don’t attend to it. We have to develop acceptance before we can execute the plan.
If we get stuck in continually striving, reaching, seeking out the next mountain to climb we won't integrate change- it won't last. We cannot deeply change without first accepting where we are.
Acceptance is not passive. It does not involve “settling” or “lowering our standards.” It is an active process of seeing things realistically, a moment to moment awareness. Acceptance creates the condition for change.
Yoga instructor Denise reminds the class to “leave your ego at the door.” She is referring to the inner striving that can make us ignore what our body needs for that practice. When I listen to this wise advice I become aware of my body in this moment and prevent injury. Acceptance allows me to continue to come back to the mat. If I continue to accept myself and be kindly aware of my body each time I return to the studio- change will come.
There is a gentle but strong anchoring that happens when we attend to acceptance. We are more patient with the process of change. We can heal when we allow ourselves to see realistically and kindly where our wounds are at this moment. When the conditions of change are right, we will master the pose, lose the weight, or forgive our friend.
Mindfulness encourages us to accept our “perfectly imperfect self.” That is VERY hard work.