Self-Acceptance: The Name of the GamePosted: April 27, 2012
I have been writing quiet a bit about the transformative power of surrendering in this blog so far and I think it’s time to clarify what I exactly mean by that. After all, surrendering is but another pointer to help break the resistance to the full experience of the present moment, to be fully present and alive. Only in surrender can we align ourselves with the depth of our being.
What probably to most people comes to mind first when they hear the word “surrender” is a conscious act of giving up in the face of having lost all hope of a better outcome. In this context it suggests weakness and defeat. For others, “to surrender” does not have this negative connotation. For them it means allowing, accepting, embracing.
I try to carefully avoid using any of these words to describe surrender. To me, they imply the notion that something needs to be done. Surrendering in a spiritual sense, however, is not something that can be achieved or brought about actively, because it is the very absence of interfering in any way, that is the hallmark of surrendering. Even the very trying not to resist is, at its root, a form of interfering and resistance.
If surrendering is an absence of resisting, how to not resist?
There are realizations and methods that can help “trick” ourselves into surrendering mode. One of them is the realization of Oneness, another is what I would call “only awareness” and, last but not least, self-compassion. These realizations have in common that they establish some sort of intimacy with all experiences, pleasant and unpleasant. Which makes sense, if we think about it, because we are biologically wired up for survival and surrendering is only a viable option to the reptilian parts of our mind if it does not constitute a threat to the organism. No matter how surrendering happens, though, what it ultimately leads to is a liberating acceptance of oneself.
Let’s start then with Oneness. To come to the realization that all is One in many different shapes and forms releases the anxiety vis-a-vis an “other” that may threaten our survival. It is a realization of highly devotional character. All is fundamentally known to be a manifestation of all there is (call it the divine, supreme intelligence, creator, God or whatever). As such, it cannot be flawed. In Oneness, there is no reference point to make such a qualitative statement anymore. All must be exactly as it is supposed to be, because all is IT. That includes all my experiences, conditioning, biological make-up etc. Nothing is neither in any way wrong nor right. It just is. And therein lies a deep acceptance, a surrender to everything.
“Only awareness” is the realization that at the heart of our being is awareness, while we usually identify with the content of awareness, that is, our memories, thoughts and sensations. It is a realization of clear discernment. When the mind is quietened down enough (e.g. by means of contemplation or transcending opposites) one gets a glimpse of content-free awareness. In these moments it seems as the experiencer alchemistically merges with the experience to reveal that what’s always there is the capacity to experience, the experiencing through and within awareness. Since this capacity is ongoing and unconditionally allowing all experiences in, there is an understanding of the impossibility to block unpleasant experiences from coming into awareness. And while it is realized that there has never been a choice over what’s experienced, there is profound inspiration from the fact that our fundamental nature does not discriminate. It naturally embraces it all. The giving up the illusion of control and the identifying with the loving nature of awareness leads to a falling into the grace of surrender.
Finally, self-compassion is the realization that everybody of us is struggling internally with similar issues. No one gets a pass on them. It is a realization of the heart wisdom. Since we are all born into this world vulnerable and weak, we are conditioned to be over-sensitively wary of threats which causes us to contract and suffer in variable degrees. You and me, we are going through the same thing. We are brothers and sisters in the human condition. Put into this perspective, our suffering becomes nothing to be ashamed of or to be avoided, since it is of universal nature among the human species. Again, this sort of natural opening to the whole array of human experiences is non other than a way to surrender.
When we fully surrender, we have come to fully accept ourselves. In this alignment of persona and soul is where the duality between inner and outer vanishes.
“Much of spiritual life is self-acceptance, maybe all of it.”
~ Jack Kornfield