Accepting the Flow

In 12-step programs, there’s a saying that for anything to change, you must go through the three “A’s:” awareness, acceptance, and action. I’m very good at awareness and action. Acceptance? Not so much. I want to skip over acceptance and go right into action to fix whatever is wrong. I don’t want to sit with it or accept it. That’s the uncomfortable part. But there’s something to acceptance, to saying, “This is where I am right now and I don’t like it but I also don’t have to fight it.”

Did you know that one definition of “accept” is “to receive”? When I accept myself or my life circumstances, I’m receiving them, I’m meeting them, I’m greeting them. They become like a friend coming in out of a storm that I’m welcoming inside. There is no judgment, no sense of good or bad. Instead, there is neutrality and that’s exactly what I’m striving for right now. To let myself be what I am – no more and no less.


I love how flowy the jellyfish is. Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

I can apply that mentality to circumstances as well. Do I like them? No. Can I receive them? Yes. To take the guest analogy further, guests are not residents – eventually, they leave. Some guests stay longer than others, sure, but no one sticks around forever. And in the interim, what sort of host am I? I’d like to be the gracious and hospitable kind.

There’s also something to letting the flow take over. To say to whatever is happening in my life, “I’m entering the stream and I’m letting this take me where I need to go.” There’s grace in that act of acceptance because essentially, it’s surrendering to what is, which allows something else to emerge.

There’s a story in the Mahábhárata about surrender that I don’t particularly love but illustrates surrender beautifully. When Duhshásana was pulling the sari of Draopadii, she was tightly holding the cloth to her body with one hand, beseeching Lord Krśńa with the other. “Oh! My Lord, save me!” But he didn’t come forward to save her. When Draopadii found no means of escape, she then released her hold on the cloth and appealed to the Lord most piteously with both hands outstretched, saying, “O Lord, I surrender my all to you. Do what you think is best.” And then the Lord immediately rescued her.

When I can accept something fully, that’s when something greater, larger, more magnificent can step in. It’s essentially what I wrote about last week and having my life belong to love. When I first accept what is, I’m receiving what the Divine Beloved wants to bring into my life. I may not like it in the beginning, the water may be choppy, I may throw up from seasickness, but at some point, I’ll look back and say, “Oh, I see. You did that for my benefit.” But key to that process is first, accepting.

I dream of a world where we recognize for anything to change, we must go through the process of awareness, acceptance, and then action. A world where we understand to accept something is to receive it with care. A world where we allow ourselves to move with the flow by entering the stream of life exactly where we are, right now.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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