January is oftentimes synonymous with making changes. The obvious start of a new cycle invites momentum to shift and patterns to change. While change is always taking place on macro and micro levels, making distinct changes in our personal lives can be supremely challenging. As I write this I wonder how many times in the last year I have told myself that tomorrow I will get back into regular practice on my mat. Each time I tell myself this I do eventually get back on my mat, just to find myself struggling to find steady footing. Only to find my practice once again slipping away, and once again telling myself, tomorrow.
We all are continuously navigating the journey from where we are to where we want to be. As we wake each day choices appear before us that will either take us to a new point of view or back to the one we so longingly wish to turn away from. While some of our choices may not appear to be new, the way we choose to respond to any situation can and does change our lives. Paradoxically in the midst of our desire for transformation is the need to accept where we are. I say need because without acceptance of where we are we are always in the struggle to change, to be something different, to be at odds with ourselves.
No one’s life is all rainbows and sparkles and unicorns. No matter how much we want it to be, it is not. This is the nature of the world we live in. Life evolves, transforms, and changes from one state of being to another. The process is for the most part not comfortable, easy, or desired. And in the face of this discomfort we attach ourselves to what makes us more comfortable. We attach to what makes us more comfortable because in our rational minds it is hard to comprehend that settling into our discomfort and accepting what is will alleviate the discomfort. Do I need to repeat that? In our logical minds we cannot comprehend that dropping into our discomfort will bring us more comfort. So, we attach ourselves to a perspective, a lifestyle, a desire, anything other than what we are experiencing, so as to avoid our discomfort. It is human nature to spend so much of our valuable energy attaching to what we are attracted to that by proxy we attach ourselves to our dislikes with equal strength. Such attachment to our dislike creates aversion which creates resistance. Resistance creates lost opportunity. Potential transformation is lost as a result of only being able to see one way to get there, the way that will be the least uncomfortable. Again I will repeat myself, change is uncomfortable. When we resist change, when we become impervious to the discomfort we miss the opportunity.
Conversely, when we accept where we are, while we are there, resistance naturally dissipates. Acceptance is not synonymous with apathy, rather it is the gateway to peace, the doorway from the darkness into the light. Through acceptance of where we are we have the invitation to feel less of a struggle on the journey from where we are to where we want to be. Through acceptance of where we are, we have the opportunity to look deeper into what it is we want to see change and ask the more pointed question of why. Such a question may lead to other whys, which in time reveal what is really important to each of us individually, not what we think should be important to us, but rather what really, truly, and authentically is.
What is authenticity if not being who you are. And who you are without the constraints of what society, family, and limited beliefs tell you who you think you should be. And how can you know who you authentically are if you refuse to embrace yourself as you are in any moment?
One thing that many people on a spiritual path have a tendency to do is dismiss more base needs for altruistic motives. Such a position allows no space to be who you are, to make choices that will enhance your authentic life, and to experience the whole of the transformation from where you are now through the process to where you are going. Rather, like resistance to discomfort, denial of your underlying true motives just continues the struggle, and perpetuates the choices and behaviors that have landed you where you are. The invitation with New Year’s resolutions or intentions is then about more than bettering yourself, it is rather to embrace the paradox. Embrace where you are as exactly where you are supposed to be, and simultaneously as the catalyst for the momentum toward where you are going. And be patient, all things happen in their own time.
With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving,