DeAnna Coon (USA) on Acceptance, Gratitude, and Respect

August 13, 2012

“Stop madly scribbling notes and put down your notepads,” barked the aging yoga teacher at the front of the room. “Just be here, now. What you take away is what you were meant to. What you miss wasn’t meant for you at this time,” she said.
Although originating in a different location of the world, the Olympic values are parallel to those articulated by my yoga teacher. Yoga is a process, one that can be long, frustrating, painful, joyful, and emotional. Perseverance is the key; immediate gratification is nowhere to be found, and from this we learn acceptance. We must learn that today may not be the day we learn to balance on our hands or our heads, but it is a day to be thankful for and to accept for what it is—another day forward in our journey. We must find gratification in it—the simple steps forward that may not be the leaps and bounds we hoped for, just as Olympic athletes must find joy in the process of what they do. It may be the experience of a burst of adrenaline on a day that she thought she was too tired to continue, or simply finding a new brand of shoestrings that stay tied when he wants them to; the small things must be appreciated. We all, Olympic athletes and others, must learn to accept these small victories with gratitude, these small steps as part of a larger journey that keeps us in balance.

While I am a dedicated student of yoga in my free time, by day I lead my own classroom, teaching English as a Second Language. I encourage my students to apply these same principles to their language learning experience—gratification is not going to be immediate, and progress will come in small steps, not leaps and bounds. It’s a difficult pill to swallow for many, and respect for the journey is oftentimes absent. Furthermore, many of my students come from turbulent parts of the world where respect for others is elusive and societal exclusion is the norm. It is my intent to begin the tall order of teaching them respect for others and their journeys. This can be realized through text and audiovisual mediums, using real life stories from around the globe and helping my students make connections between and among these stories and their own. I truly believe that deeper understanding of others will lead to more appreciation, more acceptance, and greater peace around the world. It is my hope that all educators take the initiative to interweave these principles into their teaching rather than perpetuate the status quo, leading all students everywhere to the conclusion of my yoga instructor, who reiterated the Olympic values in her own way:

“We may use different words and different methods, but we’re all striving for the same thing, and we must have respect for one another on our journeys. Everyone is welcome; everyone has value.”
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