Accepting ourselves just the way we are
You may be living your life as if there is something wrong with you, and trying to fix it. This is a form of self-hatred, which we were looking at in the last post.
You may not even be aware how much you tell yourself that you are not good enough. An excellent way to become aware is to monitor your self-talk for a day, or half a day, and notice how much of your inner dialogue is about your ‘faults’. I know that I can be very critical of myself, and most days there is a call to strive for something I think I am lacking. Unless I think otherwise, my automatic responses kick in from the moment I first wake up before I’ve had a chance to become aware of my mind and where it is going!
Most of my life I have hated my thick frizzy hair, and I’ve rarely been satisfied with it and when I have been happy I’ve then had a bad haircut by a stylist who did not have the skill to cut my hair well. I’ve been trying most of my life to find a way of dealing with the ‘problem’, believing that if my hair is right I’ll be happy. I think these restless feelings are linked to my mum who died when I was a child. She was always in charge of my hair, and when she died I was left to look after my hair myself. I’ve only just realised that my poor relationship to my hair must be linked to grief. A lightbulb moment then, and it has helped me to understand myself a little better. There is always something else to learn about ourselves, it’s a lifetime’s journey.
Mindfulness practice can help us slow down, to stop the rushing and the grasping, and just to accept ourselves – ‘warts and all’! Can we do that – even for an hour? Our consumerist culture has taught us since childhood that we have to be ‘somebody’, and to own the best of everything: to achieve, to get more (money, friends, sexual partners – the list is endless).
There is a presumption that all these ‘things’, including what we think we ‘should’ be, or ‘ought’ to do will make us happy. The irony is that these external factors can never make us happy for more than a fleeting time – why? Because they are always changing.This is what Buddha said, and it is so relevant to our culture today.
The one thing that doesn’t change is that eternal part of ourselves which lies at the centre of our inner well of peace that we can find only through moving away from the outside world through meditation and/or yoga, which has been termed ‘meditation in action’.
The nature of our mind is really a clear empty-like space which is vast and unobstructed – a bit like space itself. There is also only one mind manifesting in a myriad of ways. One eternal mind – clear, vast, pure, omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. And we all share this mind – after all there is only one mind manifesting as everything, and that includes you and me. So, getting to know your mind could well be the most important, empowering thing you ever did. Where is this mind? It arises from our brains but is located in the heart. You can see, and even operate on, the brain, but the mind is more etheric and cannot be located with the physical senses. If it is true that the mind is in the energy wheel at our heart, although arising from our brain, then the more we can switch on our hearts the more likely we are to be able to access that part of our mind that holds our sublime peaceful state of being. (A quick way to move into your heart is to think about everything you love about your life,, and give thanks for it).
Our yoga practice is a also powerful way of accessing that still, silent yet joyful part of ourselves because our inner peace is highly embodied and exists in every cell of our body.
In our external world (Samsara as the Buddhists call it) there is always something else to grasp after – the latest mobile phone, the most up to date tv, the newest car. Let’s just stop for a moment, and not add ourselves to the long list of what we want to change/acquire/fix. Maybe we are okay just the way we are. Maybe my hair will never be perfect, and I can let go grasping over the perfect style/cut/look. I’d like to very much!
In meditation and yoga we can just drop down into the arms of the quiet, and let go of our endless recitation of our faults, our desires, our ongoing fight with ourselves – whatever might drive our consciousness. Put it all down, and see how you feel after ten minutes of practice. Let’s just accept ourselves even if it is only for ten minutes. Phew – what a relief knowing we can drop the load. And if you can do it for ten minutes, try it for another ten minutes and you may find your personal peace increases each time. I’m going to try it today – starting with letting go of all negativity about my hair. Let’s not sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff) as the saying goes…and begin by living peacefully with ourselves moment by moment.