Acceptance and Yoga
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer in April, my world seemingly shattered. I turned down a dream job in California and left behind a close group of friends in my college town of Chapel Hill to move back in with my parents in my hometown. I struggled to adapt to the realities of a full-time job, a much smaller social circle, and my dad’s constant onslaught of doctors’ appointments, hospital visits, and treatments. I watched friends embark on great journeys to Spain and Nepal, explore new cities, and make new friends and memories. I felt I was missing out on the adventures and challenges that are supposed to be your early twenties. I was filled with bitterness and resentment about returning to my hometown and spending much of my free time meeting with social workers and discussing treatment plans. My dad’s cancer seemed to dominate my world and I felt hateful.
This feeling of bitterness created a vicious cycle. I hated that I was hateful of my situation, of my dad’s cancer, in essence. I resented myself for being resentful. I knew I was lucky to have the flexibility and opportunity to spend time with my family. I loved playing rummy with my dad in his hospital room, spending time with my extended family, and feeling close to my mom and brother. I felt tremendously grateful to my dad for being willing to fight for a few more days, months, years with us. I recognized how truly lucky I was to have had a kind, gentle, supportive father for at least the first twenty two years of my life but still I felt cheated. My dad was fighting for his life each and every day and yet all I wanted was for him to get better so I could hop on a plane for some foreign country.
It’s really been through yoga that I’m starting to accept life as it is right now, to accept myself as I am. The very reality of placing my hands and feet on my mat in downward facing dog is a grounding experience. Through this connection to the earth, my surroundings, and the Sangha community, I’m slowly learning to meet myself where I’m at, to stop resisting what is, to accept the Here and Now. Yoga has taught me that it’s time to accept my feelings for what they are. We’re told from an early age to treat others as we would want to be treated. We are lauded for kindness to strangers and friends alike, praised for our empathy and loyalty but I think the real life lesson, for me at least, is the long and complicated process of learning to feel love and compassion for yourself. Resenting myself is simply a waste of energy that could be better spent on my family. The truth is, life is hard right now. It’s not what I expected but that doesn’t mean it’s not wonderful.