Tag Archive: self-acceptance

Do Not Try

Do not try to become anything.
Do not make yourself into anything.
Do not be a meditator.
Do not become enlightened.
When you sit, let it be.
What you walk, let it be.
Grasp at nothing.
Resist nothing.
~Ajahn Chah

This message seems to be coming at me from many different directions lately. I’ve been striving and struggling to become enlightened. I’ve been trying different types of meditation. I live with “shoulds” surrounding me and whispering at me every moment that I’m awake. I’m always trying to be better, to do better, to improve myself, to make myself a better wife, mother, person. I’m never satisfied with who I am in THIS moment.

I’ve forgotten how to be still and quiet. Busyness has crept in and is fighting to stay. Will I ever be able to quiet the voices in my head? 

Each day is another opportunity to sit and accept who I am right now, to accept life as it is. Is the mystery that in order to learn stillness I must learn to accept this moment?

I’m still grasping and resisting. I’m still trying to be something. I don’t know how to do this, but I trust that since the message is coming to me over and over again, I will someday understand.

Inner Beauty

Yesterday, as our family was getting ready to head out to run some errands, I decided to try on a dress that I hadn’t worn for a few years. I’m working on decluttering our home, and part of that is getting rid of any clothes that I can’t wear at my current size. In the past 20+ years, I have swung like a pendulum between a size 10 and a size 16, so I have clothes of all sizes in my closet and really need to figure out which ones I want to keep.

About two years ago, at the recommendation of a friend, I read Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon. The scientific evidence of the failure and detrimental effects of dieting were shocking to me. For so many years I had tried over and over to be skinny. I thought I was a failure, but when I read this book I realized that I was not a failure. The diet industry and society had failed to tell me the truth: that I was wonderful and beautiful no matter my size, and that getting skinny would not necessarily make me healthier. In fact, it was likely to harm my health because, among other things, I would almost definitely gain back the weight I had lost and more.

I read the evidence and then looked at my own experience. I’d been dieting since I was 11 years old. My mom told me then that I was a little chubby and it would probably be a good idea. I don’t blame her, she was probably just telling me what everyone believed at that time. But that’s what got me started, and I had been a faithful follower of whatever the current fad diet was ever since. I yo-yoed up and down from that point until I read Health At Every Size, when I finally understood that if I continued to diet I would be harming my body instead of helping it.

Now I focus on moving my body in fun ways and eating intuitively, which is to say that I try to feed my body what it needs when it needs it. I don’t adhere to a breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule; I eat when my body is hungry. I no longer weigh myself, and I have accepted that I will most likely never be smaller than my current size. My goal now is not weight loss, it is health and learning to love my body.

As I was looking at myself in the mirror, trying to decide whether or not I would be able to wear that particular dress, fretting about certain bulges here and there that I didn’t have the last time I wore it, my daughter came in and told me I looked beautiful. I turned to her and said, “I’m not sure whether I can wear it. I don’t really like this…” and I pointed to one specific bulge that made me cringe a bit. Her response, “Are you afraid to show your inner beauty?” And I realized that she loves every bit of me, even the parts that I may feel are worthy of less love. It’s all beautiful to her because it’s me. And if my 8 year old looks at my body and sees its beauty, I can too.

I realized that I was worried that someone who saw me would think I shouldn’t be wearing something that so obviously showed my fat. But I have fat. It’s part of me. I could hide it, but it would still be there. It was as though I woke up and finally saw things clearly. If we’re not thin, society expects us to hide the fat they’ve been convinced is disgusting. Well, it’s not disgusting, and I’m not going to try to hide it anymore. I no longer care if someone else thinks I shouldn’t be wearing something that makes me feel beautiful (or comfortable). They can decide what they wear on their body, but they don’t get to decide what I put on mine.

I wore the dress. And guess what happened when I walked out of the bathroom? My husband looked at me, smiled, and said, “You’re beautiful.”

We hide our flaws
hoping that someone will love us
for who we aren’t.

~Anya Phenix

For the majority of my life I was a fundamentalist Christian, because of this I still find myself looking externally to find meaning and direction in my life. I was taught that I am unworthy, imperfect, filled with sin, and that I must look to God and the Bible in order to find truth. My mom reminded me often as I was growing up that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” - Jeremiah 17:9. This effectively taught me not to trust myself, and to expect my own heart to intentionally mislead me.

New Orleans Mardi Gras night in the tourist se...

New Orleans Mardi Gras night in the tourist section of Bourbon Street: Fundamentalist Christian protesters carry signs and shout damnations in crowd of more secular revelers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I realized about 3 years ago that there was something amiss in many of the things I had been taught as a Christian. I felt that love was the most important part of the message of Jesus, but when I looked around at the Christians I knew and as I read many parts of the Bible, the actions and message seemed to encourage judgment, criticism, exclusivity, and hate. The God of the Bible seemed to me to be petty and vindictive, rather than loving. The consequence of not believing that Jesus is The Only Son of God being an eternity of torment in hell seemed to me to be the opposite of what a loving God would plan.

The questioning had begun, and the further I got into researching the Bible and various translations, and the ways in which the books were put together, the less I believed it to be the infallible Word of God. There came a tipping point at which I realized that I didn’t believe in the central message anymore. I was no longer a Christian. And so began the search for my truth.

Looking for truth and enlightenment, I’ve researched many religions and belief systems, and various methods of meditation. I’ve scoured the internet for anything that might help me in my quest for truth.

A while back I posted that in my search for enlightenment, I felt the Universe telling me I should “stop looking everywhere else; everything you need is inside you.” In response to this insight, I stopped reading books telling me how to find enlightenment/become a shaman/learn how to meditate, and turned my searching toward experiential things. I tried using mind-altering binaural beats, legal plants and herbs, ceremonial cacao, and meditation for astral projection and lucid dreaming. The results have been mixed, but mostly disappointing.

Last night I was lamenting my inability to have a consistent transcendental experience, and the Universe spoke again. “You don’t need a transcendental experience; you need only to love.” It was then that I realized I hadn’t really heard the message the Universe had given me earlier. Everything I need is inside me. The most important spiritual experiences of my life have come when I was pouring out love on the world around me.

I have always been motivated by love. It is my heart’s desire to love all things. I have always felt this way, but my heart has been called wicked by my mom, the Bible, and Christianity.

Love is the only solution.

Love is the only solution. (Photo credit: christiantimeless)

Today I take my heart back. I deem my heart pure, beautiful, trustworthy, and wonderful. Love is my calling. Love is what will lead me to enlightenment. When I focus on loving everyone and everything, I will find my truth and my path.

Love is my message. Love is my superpower.

English: Detail view on the Great Buddha, Chan...

English: Detail view on the Great Buddha, Changhua, Taiwan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am frightened by the power I feel when I am angry. I know that I have the potential to do tremendous harm – emotionally, spiritually, and physically – if I were to harness the power available to me. For this reason, I have made it a priority to learn how to control my anger.

I truly wish to do no harm.

The study of zen practices has helped so much in learning how to control my emotions, and I am currently listening to an audiobook by Deepak Chopra entitled “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire” which has some wonderful exercises for letting go of anger, along with tools to help understand our inherent power in the universe.

I am learning how to harness all the power in the universe to focus on love, compassion, and healing.  This is my intention. This is what I desire. This is living in love with all things. This is who I will be.

I will be the embodiment of love and compassion.

This is not just who I am, it’s who I want to be.

ru: Бурый медведь (Московский зоопарк) en: Bro...

ru: Бурый медведь (Московский зоопарк) en: Brown Bear (Moscow Zoo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it’s so interesting how after I’ve had a vivid dream it usually takes a while before I really understand the meaning of it. I mean, there’s always an immediate obvious meaning. But I’ve found that if I let it sit for a bit, not really thinking about it, eventually a deeper meaning will hit me.

That’s what just happened with my dream about The Wolf and The Bear. I really thought I had already understood the meaning of it, but it spoke to me again tonight. As I was walking into the kitchen I had a vision that gave me chills and almost knocked me off my feet. I had to stop and grab onto the counter to steady myself.

The immediate meaning that I felt after waking from the dream was that the responsibility of shamanic healing is being shared by indigenous peoples with those of us who are only now remembering who we are and where we’ve come from. It’s a difficult path with many obstacles, and we are still very much on the outskirts of accepted lifestyles, beliefs, systems (which is why we were running around the base of the mountain.) Many who are running have died and many will die, to become part of the nature we are trying to understand and protect, but they will add their power to ours and will aid us as we continue on their path.

The understanding that hit me so hard tonight was that I have been the wolf for a while already, and it is time to allow the bear to consume me – to BE the bear.

But I am afraid.

The wolf helped me to understand my intuition, to seek the truth with determination, to trust myself. As a spirit animal, it has been very comforting and nurturing, hanging back when I was unsure, and giving me time to process things before moving me on to whatever was next. Never pushy. Never in a rush.

But the bear…..I don’t yet know the bear. It has so much power, so much strength, it’s so mysterious and sure of itself, and it feels so insistent. I fear that if I let it consume me, I will lose myself – the me that I know. And yet, it is there…waiting. There is an urgency that I don’t quite understand.

Intuitively, I know that when I allow myself to be lost in the bear, it will be a good thing. I know that fear is just another obstacle, and is only helpful in pointing out the areas in which I need to grow. I must let go of the fear. I feel that becoming one with the bear is the true beginning of my life. Bear is the voice I heard calling to me throughout all my suffering, guiding me to freedom. It is the medicine, the healing, the healer, the protector, the wise one.

To imagine that I will also be those things carries with it a sense of responsibility that unnerves me. I don’t feel able to fill those roles, to be those things for others. I am afraid of failure, of failing those who would rely on me. But maybe that’s part of the lesson in this – to allow the bear to consume me and to accept the power and responsibility, trusting the bear’s wisdom.

I know that my union with Bear is inevitable. It WILL happen. I’ve already seen it in the dreaming. It will probably happen sooner than I expect, and I will still be me – but I will be more.

I will be Bear.

Even very young children perform rudimentary e...

Even very young children perform rudimentary experiments in order to learn about the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if you never saw your reflection? If you only knew what you looked like from your own first-person perspective (think first-person shooter video games), how would that change your life?

In this modern world, we grow up knowing what we look like because we have mirrors and photographs. Now imagine the world of the past, before there were any mirrors. One day you happen upon a still pond in the forest. Thankful for the water on such a hot day, you walk over to it. You crouch down to take a drink and you see your reflection for the first time. Enraptured, you stop and stare. Long minutes pass and still you can’t look away. You find yourself studying every tiny detail. What part of your face most interests you? Are you at all like you imagined? 

I’m on Day 8 of my vow of silence, and I’ve found that when you stop talking it’s easier to listen – to everything. For the past few days I’ve been paying attention to my internal dialogue whenever I see my reflection. I thought this exercise would be interesting, because I’ve recently come to a place where I feel like I’ve made some fantastic progress in self-love. But even with all of the progress I’ve made, the things I say to myself while looking in the mirror still really sadden me. I only now understand how much further I still need to go in my journey of self-acceptance in order to override the more than 30 years of negative messages I’ve received from society and my family.

One of the thoughts that struck me as I was pondering my reflection was that even with a mirror you still don’t accurately see yourself from another’s perspective. Your reflection is a reversal of what others see when they look at you, plus you see yourself through your own filters and self-judgments. Add to that the fact that each person’s experiences, preferences, and filters change how they see you. Now what? How do you look to others? How do you know what parts of you to modify in order to be “better?” Even if you change the things you see that are “imperfect,” how will you know if those are the things others see as flaws?

On reflection (no pun intended), it seems like I use mirrors to seek out the flaws that I’ve been told could make me unlovable or unworthy. Once I find them, my mission, should I accept it, is to somehow try to hide them. I’m so tired of that game, so I’m spending the next little while trying not to look into mirrors. I’m getting in touch with how my body feels, telling my body how amazing it is, and how grateful I am for its strength. I’m learning how to truly appreciate all my body does and has done for me, and I’m hoping to fall in love with it so I can change my internal dialogue.

I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts, and I’d love to hear what you think would happen if you did any or all of these things:

  • What if you painted your mirrors, or covered them with fabric, or removed them entirely? Would you start to see yourself as a better version of yourself? Would you be kinder to yourself?
  • What if you started imagining that you had a more beautiful body, and started loving your body? Would you take better care of it? Would you be more confident? 
  • What if you started choosing clothes based on how they look on the hanger and how they feel on your body instead of how they can hide your flaws? Would getting dressed be easier? Would shopping be more fun? Would you stop caring what other people thought of you?
Light and Blessings,
Anya Phenix 

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