If someone told you they had figured out a way to thrive this year, most people would pause and listen. We have all been affected by 2020 in some way, and many of us are struggling to find balance and stability when our routines, preferences, and ways of being have been upended.
If that same person told you that the solution was adopting an acceptance mindset, there is a good chance you would stare at them blankly before walking away.
I can relate. At the start of the year, I had big plans and ideas for the 12 months ahead. Then the world changed, and what I had planned was no longer workable as designed because the construct I had created it in no longer existed.
The lessons this year have been plentiful. Some of the changes and shifts have been necessary. Some have been surprising and unwanted. Our fight or flight response, which has been critical for our survival over the millennia, has been on high alert for months on end. We have become exhausted by the constant need to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.
Even as someone who embraces change and transformation, this year has tested my limits.
An acceptance mindset is a powerful tool to reclaim your peace. When we develop an internal practice of acceptance, we are better able to handle the inevitable shifts, curveballs and crisis that come our way. Understandably, it can be difficult to embrace our situation when we are suffering. Acceptance frees us from that suffering.
Acceptance also is a choice. A hard one at times but a choice, nonetheless. Acceptance does not mean giving up. It means letting go of our grip on what we want or long for and learning how to live heart-centered in the sometimes-challenging place of change.
How do we adopt an acceptance mindset? It starts by recognizing what is in our control and what is not. Life is unpredictable, and yet we remain creatures of habit. We are thrown off by pattern disruptions, the unplanned events that shake up the structures we thrive on. In those moments we may ask ourselves, why me? Acceptance gives us an opportunity to reframe, to instead ask, why not me?
This repositioning does two important things. First, it destabilizes the isolation that often threatens to accompany stress and hardship. We are all humans having a shared experience and at times, it can suck. (Translation: you are not alone!). Second, it enables us to surrender more fully to what is. When this happens, we find freedom and make room for possibility.
In yoga, this form of surrender is found during final savasana, or corpse pose. This shape represents the death of the practice, which is essential for where many teachers lead students next – fetal pose. Fetal pose represents new beginnings, an opportunity to start fresh, to choose again. Even though your life situation has not changed dramatically during the hour you spent in class, it is not uncommon to experience a mind-body shift that many refer to as “yoga bliss”.
Practicing acceptance may not lead to bliss, but it can certainly prevent what you cannot control from stealing your joy. The best way to find peace is to stay in the present moment, which is difficult when we are wrapped in worry or fear. When we make acceptance a mindset, we begin to master our emotions, find our footing with the facts, and ultimately transform our experience of the changes happening all around us.