Unconditionally accepting yourself means allowing yourself to be as you are. It means allowing and embracing your inner state (your thoughts, feelings, pictures, bodily sensations…), your image of yourself and your body.
To have self-acceptance, one must first have self-awareness. Since you cannot accept what you aren’t aware of, it’s important to first become conscious of what’s happening inside you, on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level.
It is easier to become more and more conscious of yourself if you practice embracing anything that comes up into your awareness.
Indeed, one of the main reasons many people can’t feel their emotions, feel cut of from
their body or any other part of their experience is a lack of acceptance and with it an innate resistance and urge to repress every part of themselves that they feel is wrong, bad, or just doesn’t fit into their idea of who they think they are.
As long as you reject a part of you, your awareness can never grow – in fact it shrinks. Since you cannot bear to look at this particular part of yourself, you will only remain conscious of that which you can accept and allow to be as it is.
To resist yourself and your inner world, is to suffer – and since your relationship to others is very often a direct reflection of the relationship you have with yourself, it also usually means to unconsciously inflict suffering on the world.
The more of yourself you resist, the more you feel blank and empty inside, until finally you can’t feel anything anymore – this is often where most people turn to outer stimulation to keep the feeling of aliveness they’ve lost inside.
Food, drugs, alcohol, violence or constant outer stimulation (like watching TV for hours every day), become your escape, your means to avoiding your internal world and yourself. This often leads to more resistance, self-hatred and the feeling of »deadness« inside, which can then further manifest as physical problems (i.e. a disease) or as an unfavorable external event that you would usually perceive as negative.
A vicious spinning circle has been created, a roller-coaster that you can’t seem to get off of. Until you finally realize that you can stop the spinning, change your direction and create a completely different life for yourself. One based on acceptance, not rejection, one based on allowing and not resisting.
So adopt the attitude of becoming more aware of yourself, your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, opinions sensations and your body. Embrace anything that comes up throughout your day and thus, throughout your life.
You can practice welcoming, embracing, allowing and accepting (all different words for the same thing) every part of yourself first as a formal meditation practice. Sit still, observe your breath, or if you prefer, consciously breathe deeply and control your breath. All sort of subconscious material will come up – you will be faced with thoughts, emotions, limiting beliefs, unhealed wounds…
Allow whatever comes up to be as it is do not resist it – for in the end acceptance is fundamentally simply a lack of resistance to what is. You can consciously choose to accept what is in your awareness or simply notice the resistance and allow it to dissolve. An open awareness is thus always the main key.
As you embrace and accept everything that arises in your consciousness, you will become more deeply in touch with yourself and you will gain a deeper level of inner peace, joy, love and compassion for other beings, as well as yourself.
If there is any particular emotion, thought or sensation that won’t go away – do not run from it or resist it. Look deeply into it and use your awareness to penetrate it at it’s core. In order for it to dissipate, you need to understand it first. If you can come to the root cause of the emotion, it will often disappear by itself – but if that doesn’t work, you can try engaging it with dialogue, as if you were talking to another being and ask it questions, such as »What do you want?«, »What is the lesson in this?«, »What are you trying to reveal to me?« – or any questions that arise spontaneously in the moment that will allow you to better understand and thus dissolve whatever form of suffering you are experiencing.
By allowing this practice to come into your everyday life, you will gain a deeper and deeper level of peace and stillness, create more space and presence within yourself and as a result you will be able to accept all parts of yourself without condition.
With this »self-welcoming« often comes a deeper realization – that your current state of mind, the way you see yourself and your physical form is perhaps not all that you really are. That you are much vaster, deeper and greater than you could even imagine.
In the beginning the feeling of your deeper self may come as a subtle peace, an opening, or a deepening of the stillness that is already in the background of your everyday experience, but mostly goes unnoticed due to the constant mental chatter in your head.
Over time however, as you welcome more and more of your mental conditioning, your thoughts, emotions and all that is arising in your internal experience, you will feel the peace, the feeling of calmness and alert relaxation deepening.
As you accept yourself, you are really moving beyond your »ego«, which is all the conditioned thought patterns, feelings and beliefs you think yourself to be alone. Though that is a part of who you are, who you truly are is so much more.
Accepting something about yourself fully is actually transcending it. It is seeing that what you thought was true about you is almost like a mask, like clothes you wear that are a part of your form identity yet not the whole picture, a garb most of us get lost in so easily and mistake it for our essence.
Realizing this, you slowly free yourself from the clutches of the conditioned mind.
Thus you come home at last.
(2nd image) – by Jenny818 on Flickr