If I am to ‘journey to self’, I feel there must be a willingness first. The willingness to actually be with myself. To take a look at myself. To get to know myself.
If I am not willing, then there is no opportunity for change, healing, or growth.
*I get real about this at the end of the blog.
February is ‘journey to self’ in “Journey to the Peak”. As I approached this month, the only place I knew where to start was with that willingness and unconditional acceptance.
So, of course, I turned to Tara Brach’s book, “Radical Acceptance: embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha”. She writes:
“D.H. Lawrence described our Western culture as being like a great uprooted tree with its roots in the air. ” We are perishing for lack of fulfillment of our greater needs,” he wrote, “we are cut off from the great sources of our inward nourishment and renewal.” We come alive as we rediscover the truth of our goodness and our natural connectedness to all of life. Our “greater needs” are met in relating lovingly with each other, relating with full presence to each moment, relating to the beauty and pain that is within and around us. As Lawrence said, ” We must plant ourselves again in the universe.”
Although the transit feeling separate and unworthy is an inherent part of our conditioning as humans, so two is our capacity to awaken. We free ourselves from the prison of trance as we stop the war against ourselves and, instead, learn to relate to our lives with a wise and compassionate heart. This book is about the process of embracing our lives. When we learn to cultivate radical acceptance, we begin to rediscover the garden– I forgotten but cherished sense of wholeness, weakness and love.”
So what is the self? Who am I? What do I see when I look at myself? How does it make me feel? Who is the I that is looking at me?
These can be very grounded questions, and yet also very existential questions. This journey to self can be earthbound, literal, and personal. This journey to self can also be transcendental, ephemeral, and universal.
As I journey to myself, inevitably, I’m journeying to also know others.
However, before layering in all the other extra “stuff” that comes with being around other human beings, people, pets, environments, energies, and so much more, let’s stick with oneself. Let’s just stick to our relationship with our own self first.
For, it is truly by looking within ourselves that we begin the journey that gives us the guidance to approach the outward journey.
I am also grateful to approach this month’s Journey to the Peak theme, rather than a “peak pose”, because of the Vipassana meditation retreat that I recently attended. The ideas of mindfulness, insight, equanimity, balance, and compassion are all still fresh. They also feel relevant and connected to a journey to self. And, they are! It’s what it is all about! Read about the retreat and equanimity here.
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”-Carl Rogers
If I am going to accept, it means I must look. And as I look, may I look honestly, truthfully, vulnerably, and with intention to not harm myself. With intention to only be compassionate to myself. Satya, truthfulness, and ahimsa, non-harming, are two of yoga’s main ethical practices.
Can I be truthful and real with myself? To myself?
Can I see myself truly as I am?
When I look, can I love? Can I accept?
Even as I change, can I love and accept without condition?
When I can begin to answer with conviction and groundedness, “yes”, more and more, then it begins to become less daunting to ask the questions:
Will they see me as I am?
Will they accept me as I am?
Even as I change, will I be respected?
As I begin to look at myself, a journey to myself, and as you do so, may you carry this mudra with you; abhaya mudra. Abhaya mudra is the mudra for fearlessness. And, it is also for reassurance.
Bring your right hand up in front of your right shoulder with the palm facing outwards and the fingers gently connected. With your left hand, you can lay it on your lap or let it drape down by your side.
Again, Tara Brach:
“I like to remind students that radical is derived from the Latin word radix, meaning ” going to the root or origin.” Radical acceptance enables us to return to the root or origin of who we are, to the source of our being. When we are unconditionally kind and present, we directly dissolve the trance of unworthiness and separation. In accepting the waves of thought and feeling that arise and pass away, we realize our deepest nature, our original nature, as a boundless sea of wakefulness and love.”
We ‘root ourselves in the Universe’ by being present to ourselves and for ourselves. We recognize our place in all things, our worthiness. We allow what we discover to just be, without needing to immediately fix or change anything, because we see nothing is broken nor wrong about ourselves. We can choose to investigate further what matters to us most, what becomes persistent, and what needs healing. And we nurture it all, offer grace to our self, and love our self.
*R.A.I.N.: recognize, allow, investigate, nurture/non-identification. RAIN was created by Michelle McDonald and brought more prominently into mainstream awareness from Tara Brach.
I appreciate how in her book, Tara Brach not only describes radical acceptance, but she also talks about what it’s not.
Radical Acceptance is Not:
- resignation: instead, we do have the willingness to look. We are invested in our self and supportive to our self. We are interested and curious about who we are.
- defining ourselves by our limitations. It is not an excuse for withdrawal: for example, to say I don’t have the credentials so I won’t apply for the job is not to radical acceptance. To say that because of my past I’m just going to stay single because I’m not cut out for relationships is not radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is not allowing our fear-based stories to run our lives.
- To not overlook the truth of the endless creativity and possibility that exists by living. I have added this one as it’s own entity, whereas Tara includes it with the previous one; I just feel it’s that important.
- self-indulgence: Don’t deny yourself at every whim, but also be aware of your ” motivation and the effects of your behavior”.
- radical acceptance does not make us passive
- radical acceptance does not mean accepting a “self”. In Buddhist teachings there is a ‘no-self’, or anatta. “We are seeing the familiar wants and fears, the judging and planning thoughts as part of the flow of life. Accepting them in this way actually enables us to recognize that experience is impersonal and frees us from the trap of identifying ourselves as a deficient and limited self.”-Tara Brach
I think all of this sounds good and stuff, but I’m going to be real for a minute here. Not that I haven’t been real this entire time, but personally real…
I often have a hard time with a lot of this.
I know when I am fixing my hair or brushing my teeth just to make sure I’ll be more accepted by another person. I see when I’m cleaning my house before people come over to try to make it look a little bit neater and smell a little bit nicer. I see how I’m still fearful of getting a tattoo, not only because it’s a permanent entity on my body, but of how I might be judged by others.
I have been so tentative to allow myself to do things that I feel are authentic to who I am. Why? Out of fear of how others will perceive me, and whether they will accept me or not. What’s acceptable to them?
Well, maybe I can start asking, is it authentic and acceptable to me? (Of course while staying a kind human being.)
All this is to say, it’s easier said than done sometimes.
I do want to change, heal, and grow.
I hope you do too! Most likely you do, because you are here!
If you do indeed want to grow, this is the exact energy and reasoning for my next program that I will be announcing at the end of this month/ first thing in March! If you know you’re interested already and want to hear more, let me know!
Breathe and Believe.