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The beauty of self acceptance

How the teachings of ancient yogic philosophy encourage us to embrace ourselves for who we truly are.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A few years ago, if someone had said to me – “Do you accept yourself the way you are?”, I would have jumped onto my feet, filled with enthusiasm, and said ‘Absolutely!”.

So here I am asking you – do you accept yourself exactly the way you are?

Posed with this question, we automatically link it to the aspects of ourselves that we truly adore and embrace. We may think this is self acceptance – to focus on our positive and most lovable qualities.

Glossing over the parts of ourselves that we think are not so flattering is kind of like an in-built feature. But sometimes in life, this feature can start to get in the way of us loving ourselves and displacing the contentment we want to feel inside.

There is a real push these days to connect to ourselves and find a way to seek contentment, balance and love inside. In my studies of yogic philosophy, I have found what the beauty of self acceptance looks and feels like. And I can tell you it is easier to harvest then you think!

So let me share with you what the ancient teaching of yoga says about self acceptance.

Ahimsa

The yogic principle of Ahimsa (pronounced Ah-him-sa) means ‘non-violence’ – from the general obvious of no physical or verbal harm to a deeper meaning of no emotional and mental harm to ourselves. This deeper teaching really hits the nail on the head for me.

One of the teachings of Ahimsa around self acceptance is that we first need to be aware that we have all aspects of human emotions within us. It teaches us to recognize we have sets of both positive and negative thoughts and feelings. And it teaches us to whole heartedly embrace and love these qualities by accepting ourselves just the way we are. You see, by doing so, we create a sense of peace within us and we learn to fall in love with who we are.

When we love our strengths and our weaknesses – accepting that they exist side by side – we see that we don’t need the fixing we feel like we do. If there are aspects of us that we want to “fix”, Ahimsa asks us to do it from a place of love, not from a place of hate or criticism.

Internal Critic

Our internal critic can be our toughest. And that type of criticism can come in many forms. Criticism of our physical body, our anger, our kindness, our selfishness or our ego. Anything and everything is up for criticism. What are you criticising about yourself right now? What aspects of yourself do you want to fix or improve?

For me, I was critical of myself for the worries I had. I used to think how silly I was to have those worries and how irrational I was. I felt as though I was pushing down the worries and pushing up the criticism. And searching for ways I could eliminate it from my life.

Acceptance

Ahimsa taught me instead of criticising aspects of me that I didn’t like, I needed to accept and be okay with them. When I did this, I automatically created room for personal growth. This was growth, where I knew my strengths and my weaknesses, and I chose to focus on accepting myself. This was growth that taught me it was okay to have weaknesses and that I have the choice to always bring love into my actions, thoughts and words.

If you look at your list of criticism or wanting to improve aspects of yourself. And you start accepting the negatives whenever they came up, you will move from anger or frustration or sadness, wanting to get rid of them – to showing yourself love. Telling yourself everytime to breathe, accept this quality and be ok with these emotions. Not pushing them away or focusing on them, just telling yourself it is okay to feel that and it is a part of who you are. Showing this kind of love to yourself will show you the beauty of self acceptance.

See for yourself and remember practice makes perfect. You can train your mind to do anything! Give it a try.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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