Settle into a comfortable spot, either sitting or lying down. Start by bringing your attention to your breath. It may help to gently close your eyes, or soften your gaze towards the floor. Notice the air coming in and out. You may like to help your body begin to relax by taking a magic calming breath. Slowly breathe in through your nose, and then take a long exhale, through your mouth, as though you are blowing dandelion seeds into the wind. Take another slow breath in through your nose, and enjoy a long, relaxing exhale through your mouth. Let go of any stress from earlier in the day or worries about what will happen next. Allow yourself to rest in this moment.
As you continue to notice your breathing, imagine that you are resting near the seashore. You can smell the salty sea air and feel a warm breeze on your cheeks. You hear sea birds calling in the distance. In your mind’s eye, you notice an unusual creature approaching. This creature carries its bright pink body on two, exceptionally skinny legs. Its face is marked by a large beak and its head sits upon a long, curved neck. With very little hesitation, you recognize that this bird is a flamingo. The flamingo is so unique, that it could never be confused with any other animal. As it walks over to you, the bird seems to be smiling. This animal seems almost beaming with an essence of calm, confidence, and joy. You know that it has something important and wise to share with you. You listen carefully with your ears and your mind and your heart as the bird begins to speak. In a voice that is gentle, but filled with strength, the flamingo looks at you directly and says “I accept myself, just as I am.” With these simple words, the bird walks off, heading into the direction of the setting sun.
This flamingo, with its very long legs and neck, its big beak, and its bright pink feathers, accepts and celebrates its own unique beauty rather than struggling to fit in with the other birds. Maybe there are moments when you don’t quite feel like you belong. If you’re like most of us, there’s probably been a time or two when you stumbled and made a mistake or wished you were somehow different. Let’s see what it would be like, instead of wishing to be better or different, if you were to practice acceptance and celebrate yourself, just as you are now. As you take a deep breath in, repeat the flamingo’s affirmation silently in your mind, “I accept myself, just as I am.” As you exhale, let go of any judgment or disapproval, any thoughts suggesting that you should be any different than you are. Inhale and let your body fill with gentle acceptance as you let yourself feel whole and wonderful. Take a few more breaths and enjoy this moment of peace. Know that you can practice the flamingo’s mantra any time you’re feeling a bit wobbly and unsure of yourself. With your head held high, practice accepting yourself, just as you are, and perhaps you too, can feel calm, confident, and joyful.