“Go and love someone exactly as they are. And then watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest versions of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered.” – Wes Angelozzi
I write fairly regularly about my very first yoga class. I was wearing the wrong clothes. I had the wrong mat. I couldn’t touch my shins, let alone my toes. I had some serious trouble following instructions so I spent as much time looking around the room at what everyone else was doing as doing anything on my own mat. Let’s just say – it wasn’t pretty.
But (and this is a humongous, important, life-changing “but”) at the end of that class, I felt something. I felt somehow different than I’d ever felt after exercising. Despite my inabilities, yoga had reached out and met me exactly where I was. It had received me exactly as I was and had shared its gifts with me.
While I would have been hard-pressed to tell you what those gifts were (other than that I had exercised the ability to laugh at myself, which is an important life skill by the way), I knew I wanted more. So began a love affair that has spanned 16 years and is showing no signs of fading.
As someone who arrived at yoga with absolutely no physical aptitude for the practice, the speed at which I fell in love with yoga can seem surprising. I was fully hooked by the time I’d used up my first 10-class card.
I firmly believe that my attraction to the practice had a great deal to do with the fact that it didn’t matter if I was good or bad at it. It didn’t matter to my teacher, or my fellow students or to yoga itself. I don’t know why it didn’t matter to me (this is usually the biggest tripping point for beginners), but I remain profoundly grateful that I didn’t care that I couldn’t do more than I could do in each class. I was free to practice exactly at my level and I felt just as good after class as the human pretzels surrounding me.
Being loved and accepted exactly as you are is an astoundingly rare experience in this world. It is so unusual that, when you get a taste of it, it lights you up. To borrow Wes Angelozzi’s word, it is empowering.
Rather than making you complacent or stagnant, being loved exactly as you are creates dynamic growth and change. When you are fully accepted, weak spots and all, your fear of failure is obliterated. You discover the courage to stretch toward or even past your limits. You begin to crave growth. You begin to yearn to become the greatest version of you that is possible. And (this is the most exciting news of all), as you become that person you discover that there is always and will always be a greatest version of you available to keep you stretching. I suspect you will keep at it (whatever “it” may be) for years and years.
Experiencing this kind of love and acceptance changes you. As described above, the change starts with you – your own growth and transformation. But the change goes well beyond that. For as you receive the gifts of being totally seen and accepted exactly as you are, you begin to accept and love others this same way. (It happens so subtly that you may not even know you’re doing it at first.)
Imagine for a moment your friendships, your marriage, your work relationships, your relationships with your teachers or students, or your relationships with your children. Imagine what could happen if you went and loved these people exactly as they are. Imagine the potential. Imagine more than their growth. Imagine how you could transform together.