The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today”.
On page 449 in Edition Three, it continues in its almost-yogic explanation of acceptance:
“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation –
some fact of my life, unacceptable to me
and I can find no serenity
until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation
as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens
in God’s world by mistake.”
The feelings, the people, the circumstances—they are not the problem. The problem is my struggle and push against them, creating literal friction between myself and the moment. Think yoga on the mat: when the sensations arise in an asana, if we fight against them, it becomes so much harder to bear. As we practice relaxing and breathing with what is, shifting from the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze), to the para-sympathetic nervous system (rest/digest), we ease softly into the moment. We literally, from a body-centered perspective, relax with what is and enter the flow state.
And here’s the good part: as we do relax with what it, it becomes easier—it begins to change. The shift happens so much more easefully than pushing our shoulders against the moment, willing the river to flow in another direction.
Most remarkably, from this place of acceptance, action becomes profoundly impactful. Acceptance doesn’t mean sitting still. It means relaxing into what is, and from that connection to the flow state that relaxation offers us, doorways to appropriate and effective action emerge. There is work to do; yet taken from the groundwork of acceptance, everything becomes more possible.
It all changes. It all shifts. The decision is—how do I choose to be with it? If I choose to put on my boxing gloves, then in the ring I will be. If I choose to live from the principles of the mindfulness practices, then on the mat I will sit.
Here are some considerations for you:
- What arena in your world do you fight the most against?
- Breathe and relax—watch yourself without judgment—notice the struggle.
- How might you bring a little more relaxation, ease and acceptance to that struggle?
- What would it look like to live this situation differently?
- What might you learn from this part of yourself that so desperately wants your attention?
Accepting my hopelessness and my despair, as confrontational as that is to my image of myself as the ever-enlightened yogi, is the doorway to change. Learning from this part of me—what does she have to tell me, this despair, this hopelessness? How might I grow and become more of who I am? These are the compelling, powerful, and inevitable markers of transmutation and change.
Opening my front door after the blizzard, I was overwhelmed with the barricade of snow-cement that greeted me. There seemed to be so much to do—it felt impossible. Two days later, here is the same view, from that very same front door: Things do sort themselves out, in its own timing.
All blessings, Aruni