Why Acceptance?

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

— Lao Tzu

The practice of Pillar 2 (acceptance) centres around accepting life as it is in this moment. The reality is that things are the way that they are.

In Pillar 1 (inner reflection) the emphasis is put on noticing your inner state, including what thoughts are going through your mind and how you’re feeling. As you engage in practice such as meditation and journalling you’ll inevitably unearth thoughts and emotions that are uncomfortable and undesirable.

Resisting the way things are, for example by worrying and complaining, brings attention to the resistance itself, diverting attention from the productive path forward. This creates a feeling of feeling stuck and compromises motivation.

Practicing Acceptance

It’s important to understand that acceptance is very much a practice. It’s very natural for resistance to arise as we’re triggered internally. The practice of acceptance centres around observing what’s so and noticing what you’re resisting, and of letting go of some or all of the resistance.

Letting Go of Perfectionism

Especially if you have perfectionist tendencies, keep in mind that this isn’t about letting go of all resistance and being accepting of everything in your life. In fact, sometimes all there is to do is to accept that you’re experiencing resistance in the moment.

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Resistance comes from a place of lack and taps into stories of not having enough. For example, not having enough time, money, energy, confidence. The list goes on. Simply acknowledging what you’re grateful for in the moment can tangibly help you step out of this victim mode. This practice includes being grateful for challenges, as it’s these challenges that give us the opportunity to learn and grow.

Yoga and Meditation

In addition to helping us connect with our inner world, yoga and meditation can help develop acceptance and tolerance, both of ourselves and others. Practically speaking, this practice can consist of physical yoga postures and dynamic movement that develop our sense of self and regulate hormone levels, breathwork that supports us in mastering our relationship to our thoughts and meditations that create new neural pathways and balance our brain chemistry.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

—Lao Tzu

Timeless Wisdom

The Yogic Practice of Acceptance

Many yoga and meditation practices that are taught today are based on the eight limbs of yoga that were documented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali around 400 CE.

The second limb (niyama) includes the practice of Santoṣa, a sanskrit word that means contentment or acceptance of one’s circumstances. Lack of acceptance inhibits further development. For example, someone who doesn’t accept their body might shy away from participating in physical yoga and someone whose mind is very active may decide not to meditate. The result is that they don’t give themselves the opportunity to benefit from what these practices have to offer.

The Age of Consumerism

Much of modern marketing is designed to convince us that there’s something we’re lacking; that we won’t truly be happy until we possess the object of our desire. The satisfaction that comes from acquiring that object is often short-lived and shallow.

“Discontent, blaming, complaining, self-pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.”

— Eckhart Tolle

Explore Pillar Three