I spent last week at the Esalen Institute, at something called the Well-Being project, which I was introduced to through World Economic Forum. It’s an incredible program, designed for social entrepreneurs like myself to focus on doing inner work, as a way to enhance the impact we want to have externally.
I learned a tremendous amount, and feel so much gratitude for the opportunity to take part in this. A huge part of what I learned about is acceptance, both self-acceptance and acceptance of the external world.
Esalen is nestled in Big Sur, and is one of the most amazingly beautiful places I’ve ever visited. I’ve never seen so many butterflies and hummingbirds in one place. We spent a great deal of time in nature – both appreciating nature and learning from nature. One of my stark realizations was how beautiful nature is — for both all its glory, for all its imperfections. There is nothing you can do to change nature; we must love it as it is.
It was a powerful lesson to learn, especially because I’ve often struggled with complete self acceptance. I always believe I can be better or more than what I am, instead of being content with who I am in the moment – it’s perhaps part of what drives me. However, this lack of self acceptance has also led me to many moments of inner turmoil and unhealthy self-criticism. I’ve also realized that in not accepting myself, I have a hard time accepting others fully.
My passions, fortunately, are the core part of what drive me – my passion to make an impact in the world, my passion to surf, my passion to learn new things. These passions are my guiding light, and they allow me to be my best self. They give me the courage and motivation to embark on new endeavors and to conquer my fears along the way. I feel blessed that I’ve found so many wonderful passions in my life. I am now trying to find a healthy balance between pursuing my passions, striving to be my best, and having self-compassion.
At the end of the week, on the way home from Esalen, I stopped in Santa Cruz to indulge in one of my passions. The conditions, unfortunately, were unusually flat. I stayed out for a few hours, and caught a handful of waves, but also missed plenty of waves I should have caught. Instead of getting frustrated with myself, as I often do, I felt totally at peace. I felt so fortunate to just be in the water, doing one of the things I love. Even if I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I hoped, I had the chance to be encompassed by the beautiful nature around me – and the chance to just be me, for better or worse. With this newfound self-acceptance, I felt more at ease with the world, more spacious.
After two hours in the water, I caught a final wave. As I rode on the buttery surface of the water to shore, I breathed in the magnificence around me, taking in the fact that I am a part of the this beautiful world, for all its glory, for all its imperfections.