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Willfulness to Willingness: Acceptance as a Process

This morning at breakfast, my husband, Dave, was complaining about the size of the type in a document he had been attempting to read. With frustration he mumbled, “The headlines are always so big, but the message itself is always so hard to read.” And a light bulb appeared over my head illuminating the process of acceptance.

Acceptance is crucial to healing and evolving throughout the twisted turns of a human life. It is a point of entry without which there can be no moving forward – no new way of being with and in the context of our challenging and ever-changing world. The path from willfulness (non-acceptance) to willingness (acceptance) is a unique adventure blessed with both edge and promise. In fact, its promise lies within its edges. Our ways of being with such edges can lead us either toward the entry point of acceptance or back in the more comfortable, yet tiring, position of resistance.

Catching Up With the Words

It has been my experience that acceptance is never an instantaneous event. Even in the moment when I might verbally affirm, “I have accepted this”, the truth is that there are some parts of me that have not quite caught up to the one who said the words. There is more to become conscious of before there is true authenticity behind the declaration. Letting go and letting be aren’t things one does in the
moment. They are the effortless result of the process of gradual discernment, in which it will seem as though nothing was actually done, but rather allowed. I need only to be consistently, curiously aware of the small internal shifts and those opportunities to choose in favor of acceptance that come my way on a daily basis.

Acceptance is a process of moving from a conscious initial awareness toward an embodied, almost unconscious, new way of being as a result of a deep integration of what has been accepted.  Like Dave’s reading material, acceptance starts with a BIG headline, but the small print that follows takes time to discern and absorb.


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About the Author

Elissa Cobb

Elissa brings more than 25 years of combined practice and teaching experience in bodymind practices, yoga, and yoga therapy to her writings, including her experience as the former Director of Training Programs with Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. She holds a Master’s degree in Embodiment Studies, has developed many of the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training programs, and has trained hundreds of students. Elissa is the author of The Forgotten Body: A Way of Knowing and Understanding Self. She is a life-long resident of Vermont.

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