Graduation

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Well, it’s taken me a while to get this done. Finally, about five weeks later (and what seems a lifetime away), here is my Graduation/Post graduation run down.  Given all my other posts, I fear this is going to be a bit anticlimactic.

First, as a couple of people asked me where a picture of myself was on the blog, here is my graduation photo with ‘Boss’ himself:

 



Our graduation, which was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, was nice, though a little crazed. Perhaps the coolest thing about the ceremony was a demonstration some of our fellow students did, for the guests. About 12 handpicked fellow trainees did a 20-minute demo doing all the postures, in unison, as Rajashree, Bikram’s wife, narrated. It was very impressive, even to those of us who do the yoga. They did an amazing job.

Then, after a couple of short speeches and awards that were given out, each of us had our named called, walked across the stage, received our diploma and took a picture with Bikram. It took a while for all 300 to walk across the stage, but after nine intense weeks, it was excellent that the time was taken to give each individual person recognition. I have to add that Bikram really excelled here. Years ago, in my struggling actor days, I worked a job where I had to dress up as The Phantom of The Opera at a corporate party and stand for 4 hours taking pictures with people, one after the other. It was one of the most exhausting things I have ever done. It might sound easy, but it was really difficult to stand there and take pictures over and over, with no break, and ‘be present’ for each photo. Bikram happily greeted, warmly embraced and took a great photo with each of the 300, even doing multiple shots for people with families or if a photo needed to be redone. It could not have been easy, yet he never flagged. As Emmy says, you often can see glimpses of the beautiful, giving soul within.

After Graduation, various groups went to dinner, or home to pack, before a large party where most everyone reconvened. I went to dinner with 12 people from the group, just a stellar bunch of people. We had such a good time that around 11:45 we realized we were missing the party. We rushed to the party house where my fellow classmates and much of the Bikram staff once again proved that Yogis can party with the best of them. A much-needed release from the previous nine weeks was already in gear and the party went on well into the wee hours, with much dancing and imbibing occurring. It was a great time and was also the place most of us said goodbye. Those who were staying in the Oakwood apartments had to be moved out by 9 am Sunday morning, so most who were from out of town had scheduled their plane flights during the day Sunday. It was a bit weird to realize that after the party I would stop seeing all these people with whom I was spending almost every waking minute.

Emerging from the weird bubble of training was a bit surreal. Suddenly you have a lot of free time and to be able to make your own schedule again was wonderful, yet freaky. ‘I used to live like this?’ was a common feeling for me.  As noted above, it was also a bit of a shock to suddenly not see most all the people I to whom I have grown so close. The one thing that has made the transition easier than it would have been is having Adam remain in LA and living in the house. He is going to keep living here for the time being and having him around – as well as having some fellow teachers who have been coming in and out, sleeping on the couch, etc, in the weeks since – has made the break less dramatic. Had I left the party that night, gone home to an empty house, and from that point on had no contact with anyone from the class … well, it would have been extremely difficult.

I do have to stop and say that perhaps the best part of going through the training was meeting Adam and living with him during the experience, there simply is not a better person you could meet. Besides just being an honest, trustworthy, smart and extremely fun person with whom to spend time, he often helped carry me through the training, from helping around the house and making food to just listening to me bitch when needed, particularly on a late night drive home from a hell lecture.  

My body has, as promised by the staff, continued to change post Training. Given my personal proclivity to thoroughly enjoy food and drink, and given that we ended the training right before Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, I pretty much dove right back into some hearty eating and drinking when the training ended. Even so, I can still feel my body change on a daily basis. Muscles appear, fat disappears and I just feel better and better.

I have continued my yoga practice along with beginning to teach and now that I am out of the rigors of the training, when you are often so sore you can barely bend over, I can really see the effect the training had on my practice and my body. Obviously, I love Bikram Yoga or I would not have done the nine weeks. But my love for the yoga, before I entered the training, was based mostly on the effect it had on me, the way it made me feel, rather than enjoying the class itself, which is often extremely difficult. Before the training, I was going to yoga 3-5 times a week, and even though I knew the effect, it was sometimes a hurdle to get there. Now, I jones for it every day, particularly on a day I don’t get to go. I just crave it. And I love the 90 minutes each day when I go. The class is actually fun now, and though I am no amazing example in class, I can do things I never thought possible before the training. I actually am missing the daily doubles and am doing at least one double a week, when possible. If nothing else, I hope this journal will encourage everyone who reads it to at least give Bikram a try. One person close to me has started Bikram based on my experience and in less than a month it has been life changing. Which is the main reason I did the training to begin with: to be able to teach it and help others find the life changing benefits I have been blessed with through the work.  (I will leave writing about teaching for the teaching journal I have started. There are posts about it on the home page. )

I do not tend to be a very reflective person, generally. As those who are close to me know well, I tend to be constantly in forward motion, often barreling through life and situations rather than looking back to learn. It is not the best of character traits, though it does help me get things done and I have a feeling it helped me get through the training easier than others who do stop and take stock. Thus, even with 5 weeks of space, I am not sure I have any huge realizations to impart. I do know many of us look back just these few shorts weeks after it has ended and think, ‘Good Lord, we actually did that??’ It sometimes is difficult to believe. And I do know I am changed in some significant ways. I am not yet quite sure exactly what they are. I may never fully realize it.

One interesting after-effect has been in terms of media and information. I have always been a newshound, keeping up minute by minute (possible, in the age of the internet) with politics, world events, entertainment, gossip and the like. When I started the training, I made a choice to ignore all of that for the nine weeks. I found it easier to adhere to that choice than expected and I did not look at a newspaper, read a website or Op-Ed, or read about anything gossipy or social at all. It was wonderful. And I realized I don’t need to know all of that stuff to get through the day, to have an effect on people’s lives, nor does it change my life not knowing certain things. Not that it is in anyway wrong for anyone else. But for me it has been refreshing and rather freeing. It reminds me of a quote I love about communication, news, et al, from Thoreau. When the telegraph was invented, a race began to connect everyone in the world. He wrote:

“We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate…(it is)as if the main object were to talk fast and not to talk sensibly. We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.”

 
In the same manner, much of what I was so eager to read, i.e. consume, each day really had no effect on my day-to-day life. One Saturday morning, for instance, during the training, I was in Whole Foods. Standing in the check out line I saw a magazine cover: AMISH SCHOOL MASSACRE! I just looked away and thought, ‘Don’t want to know,  don’t need to know.’ So far, this is holding. I just don’t care. There are more than enough people who worry about politics and news that the world will remain upright if I don’t know all this stuff anymore. I’d rather focus on my work and teaching. I am curious to see both if I can keep this up and also if/how it will effect my daily life. I do know there are things I cared about passionately before the training that I just don’t find that interesting anymore. For now, it feels good.

The training also made me stronger in many ways, and I have a feeling that as life’s inevitable difficulties come along, whatever I am faced with I’ll be able to say, ‘If I got through Bikram Training, I can surely get through this.’ Hopefully I can use that strength and also hold onto the discipline it took to get through the training and apply it to my often-undisciplined approach to life. There were also so many quotes from the training that still ring in my head, both from teachers and fellow students. When I get time, I am going to try to collate them all. One that has really resonated with me is, of course, from Dame Emmy, who a number of times said ‘Operate from a place of strength’. In context it was mostly about not letting injuries or ailments get you down and to approach your practice from a strong, positive outlook, i.e. ‘I can do this, the yoga is having a great effect, I am strong enough to do this’ rather than, ‘I can’t do it today, I am hurting too badly, I am too tired, etc’ but I think that approach powerfully carries over into daily life.
 

I remain so glad for the experience. For the physical benefits, certainly, but also because of the amazing, wonderful people I met and with whom I hope to remain in contact. And though I know there are many of my fellow new teachers who would not say this, I actually had a very good time. It was hard, intense, at times aggravating and exhausting, but I really did just love the time at the headquarters with those people and would not trade it for the world.

Thanks again for all of you who were such a support and who read these lengthy journals during the nine weeks. I will probably continue to post about the teaching, though probably every few months at most. In the meantime, thanks again and if anyone comes across this page who is thinking about training, please shoot me an email with any questions you might have.

Blessings to everyone in 2007.


tomprovost@khartoumfilms.com 

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