Radical Self-acceptance

By Carolyn Karuna Beaver

When I feel my way into Svaroopa® yoga’s teaching, I can sense that it is true that I am Shiva.  I feel expansive and grounded at the same time.  I can sense beyond the boundaries of my body and my mind to know the One Divine Reality being all – being me, being you, being everyone and everything, seen and unseen.

And then I forget who I really am.  Over and over again, I get distracted.  I get caught up in the mundane aspects of life.  I get focused on what I do or who I am in relationship with.  I’m busy thinking and feeling.  These are all valid parts of who I am.  But they don’t often lead me to see myself as Divine.  It’s a painful and separate place to be.

This is why I’m loving Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda’s final “quick fix” of the year.  Her December Teachings Article, It’s All Divine, gives the most powerful of the practices thus far: “See it All as Shiva.”

I tend not to see the mundane — “my” mundane — as Divine.  Divine, my mind tells me, is Godlike, celestial.  Even using a less lofty definition, Divine is lovely, blissful and pleasing.  My mundane life often does not feel like any of this. But then I go back to Swamiji’s quick fix — to see it all as Shiva.  Even the mundane stuff, even the tough stuff, even the messy stuff.  It’s all Shiva.  What helps me see this is starting with me.

This month’s quick fix reminds me of Rene Descartes’ axiom “I think, therefore I am.”  Yoga’s axiom is more like “I am, therefore I AM.”  Shiva is existence Itself.  Because I exist, I am existence itself.  Because I exist, I am Shiva.  I don’t have to “do” anything.  I just am.  Everything I think and say and do is Shiva.  Everything I see is Shiva because I am Shiva.

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It’s all in the way I look at things.  Swami puts it this way, “The One Divine Reality is never absent. It’s only your perception that changes.”  All I have to do is shift my perception.  I’ve been putting this into practice by giving myself a gentle “knock upside my head.‘  In a recent conversation with my daughter, I found myself getting frustrated.  She was stuck in a viewpoint that I felt was getting us nowhere.  Then it hit me — literally hit me.  I am Shiva.  It was like an ice cube melting in the warmth of the sun.  My mind melted into peace in the middle of strife.  I knew I was Divine and mundane — aha and duh — at the same time!  All I had to do was shift my perception of who I was in that moment, and it all changed.  I allowed my daughter her viewpoint.  I realized I didn’t have to change a thing.  It could just “be” — as I could just “be.” For me, this takes the sting and judgment out of the mundane.  It reminds me that I don’t have to put things in two camps: Divine/mundane, pleasant/unpleasant, right/wrong.  It all just IS.  It’s all Shiva, all the time.  I am Shiva, all the time, whether I’m sitting in meditation or arguing with my daughter.  As Swamiji writes, “You are Shiva, so wherever you go, Shiva is there because you are there.”  And when I recognize my Shivaness, I recognize it in everyone and everything else too. This is pretty radical Self-acceptance.  And that is Divine!

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