Radical Self Acceptance

Yoga on High in FEBRUARY, Love Yoga, Love You!

by Marcia Miller

Right after I received the following quote I was asked to write a blog about one of the values we have listed in our Yoga on High mission statement, radical self acceptance. This value has become one of the most important markers for me of whether my spiritual practices are working, and what I most want to offer to my family, friends and students.  This quote was transcribed by Janine Harris  Degitz from a talk given last November by our teacher, Robert Gonzales.


“For me, compassion is a quality of the heart and in a very specific way.  Where there is presence in relationship to life.  There is an unconditional spacious allowing in relationship.  What is present is an unconditional allowing, an unconditional welcoming, a nonjudgmental spaciousness…that is compassion.  When I can live in the presence of compassion with my inner life -- this is unconditional acceptance.  When compassion meets the knot of fear, of anger, of disconnection.  That spaciousness is something that communicates (an intention) to this life form “whatever you are, whatever you are feeling… I welcome you”.  I don’t ask you to change, there’s no pressure, there’s no pushing, there’s no need to heal, to get over yourself or stop.  The mind wants the fear to stop, the depression to end.  “I’m sick of it, I’m tired of it, I want to get over it”,  that’s part of the mind (the protective, defensive, survival part of the mind) that just wants to get free from the suffering.  For me Compassion is very different.  It’s a part of us that, when we can access and develop this unconditional spacious allowing, a nonjudgmental space, and when we can bring that active presence to this suffering state, then what happens is the suffering state begins to change…it’s not so much in the frozen fear, frozen sadness or frozen anger. Iit begins to soften, it begins to emerge.  Basically that form of suffering, that part of us just wants to be seen, wants to be loved.   For me that’s how I define compassion.”

Robert Gonzales -Transcribed by Janine Harris Degitz -- Excerpt from 11/10/2013 -- Morning Talk -Robert Gonzales Workshop

I invite you to savor these words—it may be hard to take them in in one reading.  What Robert is describing as compassion is what I have come to understand as radical self acceptance—the non-judgmental welcoming of even the most painful, challenging and wounded parts of myself.  I have tried many strategies to deal with these parts; mostly I have tried to get rid of them through the guises of covering them over, self-improvement, healing them or transcending them.  Now, my strategy is to be much more generous with myself.  I am not always successful, but when I am able to be with myself or another in the spacious welcoming of life just as it is, it feels like a miracle of openness and sweetness that often allows the very change I would have tried to impose before.