Acceptance – by Grace Di Martino

‘The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.’ Nathaniel Branden
The views from the Bikram podium continue to inspire, amaze & affect me. Prior to getting into the Bikram teaching caper, I was a student who largely just went about my business in the hot room – attempting postures, falling out of postures, breathing, focussing my mind, stilling my body – & after a few years of consistent practice found that point of peace in the hot room. I still do, both as a student & as a teacher. Yeah, likely the latter part sounds weird, but teaching can & does bring me peace.

I always enjoyed (& continue to enjoy) the experience of sharing a combined searing energy with other students & allowing a Bikram class’ energy to fully engulf me. As a student, I always enjoy the seeming torrent of the standing series followed by the silence, stillness & power of Savasana. I still do. Today though, I enjoy watching that same ebb & flow in class, but the view is now from the podium. Watching students be still, appreciating & being aware of themselves, is in fact my very favourite part of teaching a Bikram class.

There’s another perhaps more poignant part of that awareness that I see from the podium. & it begins very early in class, right at the top of class, as soon as I say ‘lights coming on everyone’, I get to the podium & there it is – bam! – gulp! – ugh! That very first instant of a clear vision of self in the mirror.
Then I usually say ‘look at yourself eye to eye’ – What?!, Shut-Up Grace, No, I can’t. I won’t.
& this is when the undeniable negative self-talk begins, it races through your mind ‘Lewis Hamilton’ style & before you know it, even before I’ve said ‘interlock your 10 fingers’, you’ve cast yourself as the ugly step sister, Quasimodo, as belligerent, greedy, impatient, difficult, pessimistic, rude, superficial, thoughtless, quick-tempered, obsessive, dishonest, incompetent …
um, all I said was ‘interlock your 10 fingers’ 😉
The exchange that occurs between a teacher & students in the Bikram class can be profound – that is, in itself, a whole other topic – in relation to what the student sees & what the teacher sees, well, the exchange can be unbalanced.

Let me explain.

What students see, generally, but not always, is their negative selves, those attributes both physical & psychological that either do exist or that students bestow on themselves to reinforce a negative mindset. What teachers see, is so much more intense – we see effort, courage, focus, determination, spirit & capability. But what we see most is potential. Potential is defined as ‘capable of being or becoming’.
Just take a minute to think about that. What is your potential?. What are you capable or being or becoming?
When those lights come on in the hot room & you stand on your mat it makes you aware – aware of your body, your mind, your breath – aware of your vulnerable self. That vulnerable self that we generally close off because as adults we’re required to be sensible, practical & there’s no time for vulnerability. So, we feed ourselves negative talk to suppress our vulnerability & engage with ourselves on a far more rational keel. Or so we think.

Awareness of self, our true self, our vulnerable self leads us to evolve & emerge from a self-induced, negative talk slumber – to arise, mature & seasoned, to in turn over time, arrive at true acceptance.
Without awareness & acceptance, your potential remains buried, a mysterious ‘what if’ of possibilities that never saw the light of day. As Fats Domino would say ‘Ain’t that a shame’.

So, the next time you’re in the hot room & you hear ‘lights coming on everyone’, stand up, look in the mirror & say to yourself ‘today I am becoming’.

Grace Di Martino

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Last night I had the BEST night sleep I’ve had in months and woke up feeling energised and fresh, rather than stale and tired like I normally do. If that’s how I’m feeling after just one class, I can’t wait to see how I’m feeling after 5, 10, 50 and 100 classes! 
Berny - Student