Wrote this latest post for my favorite online publication: Elephant Journal :
"Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it."
— Eckhart Tolle
— Eckhart Tolle
Read this quote recently and my very first thought was uh oh, I’m in trouble. For me acceptance is the Holy Grail, the elusiveness of it in my life fuels my anxiety. As far as that Tolle quote goes, acceptance still seems so far out of my reach in my in yoga practice, in my mothering role, and most of all in regards to my status as a cancer survivor. So I sat down recently to use the one tool, writing, that at a very minimum leads me to an understanding of myself. Perhaps then acceptance will at least be in my line of vision.
My Yoga: I decided first that before acceptance there needs to be an understanding. In the past every time I have tried to write about what yoga means to me, I immediately turned into a fuzzy brained imbecile looking blankly at my computer screen. Is it because I haven’t reached spiritual enlightenment yet? Yep, pretty sure that is a big part of it. In fact, I’m not even close. I’m ok with that (read, acceptance without understanding). In fact, even if I could get close to the grasp of enlightenment I’m pretty sure my busy mamma life wouldn’t allow the luxury of time to bask in it. So, I am really OK with not being there. My yoga stuff is so much pettier. Like, the fact that my right hamstring never seems to lengthen after man years of yoga. So accept that Amy. It may never lengthen another centimeter. But perhaps if you could just breathe into the intensity of that stretch and allow your mind to release, it is good enough. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. In the meantime, I try to push away my desire for acceptance in my yoga world telling myself that the asanas don’t require perfection.
I realized the other day that at least 95 percent of my yoga clients are looking for one thing from my class, space in their bodies. They want to walk away in yoga bliss relishing in the fact that their physically self feels better. There is a lot of writing about our western culture only grasping a piece of the yoga puzzle, that of their physical body. But what if that’s ok? As a yoga teacher I will never profess to be any sort of spiritual guide. I can only lean on my personal life experiences and incorporate a practice from there. I can guide a class through asanas and speak of the benefits of breath and meditation in a way that each student develops an awareness of those components of yoga. What they do with that awareness is their personal journey. My theory is simple, that they will move with more intelligence and incorporate a stress reducing breath while they are hauling their 3 kids to sports activities after a busy mamma day. Or perhaps the runners in my class will take the time to reset their imbalances in an effort to extend the life of what they love to do, run. Maybe the women on a yoga retreat will go home with the mindset of finding presence in their everyday life. Hopefully they all just hone their yoga life skills.
My Mothering: When I was young (and dumb) I thought I could only accept what was perfect. Whoa. Big mistake thinking I could ever reach a state of perfection in the area of parenting. The oxymoron of perfect parenting is the fact that kids mess up the whole equation. I have never met a perfect parent. And the only ones who think that they will achieve that status are usually the ones who have not yet bore children. I joke that one of my four kids will someday write a book about me and the word dearest will be in the title. Not true of course but I am all about being real in the parenting department. If I can raise our four to have a nice blend of compassion and concentration regarding the world they live in I will accept that I have fulfilled my mamma duties.
Working towards acceptance in the parenting sense is understanding that all of my imperfections as a mother combined with my kids quirks make for a pretty imperfect family life. Roll with the punches is the best advice another mom gave to me. And I can accept that sometimes the punch may cause a bruise, but eventually the bruise heals.
My Cancer Survivor Status: In this respect I am still so far from my truth. My illness is no longer visible. And my body has healed. And yet my mind and spirit are still a heaping wet mess of slop that I can’t recover. I’m convinced it is because of my lack of acceptance here. How is it that I have the power of the mind to be present but then later still cannot fully comprehend why I was diagnosed with cancer? Cancer affects one in four without regards to age, socioeconomics, gender, and lifestyle. My brain knows all of this. And yet, it still wants, even requires, an answer of how and why. The doctors tell me I will never know. Acceptance is miles and miles away.
Recently the anger returned again. It usually surfaces around the time of a doctor visit. I’ve been told that the will-it-return fear never goes away and this makes me angry. I’ve decided that my acceptance should be (is not yet) that I have no control. I can eat the healthiest of foods, practice yoga, and work consistently to manage stress in my life. But it still may return. The cockiness of my health attitude pre-cancer was naïve. And yet, the loss of that naivety after diagnosis was a major emotional theft. I know too much now…….and cannot accept it.
I learned a lot because of cancer. But not complete acceptance. Not yet anyway. I’ll never be on the same intellectual page as Eckhart Tolle but maybe, just maybe, that in my quest for acceptance I can at least understand and love myself a little more.