“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”

– Nathaniel Branden

The first punch connected with the bag. “Weak”, I thought to myself. I struck again, a quick left jab followed by a right straight. Still unsatisfied I struck again and rolled back feeling my weight shift to my heels. I teetered on the edge of balance. So I took a step back and reset. Something wasn’t right. I thought about it a moment, and rather than settle back into normal, I adjusted. Widen the stance. Don’t get lazy, balance on the balls of the feet. Lean in a little more. It felt far more aggressive than my usual approach, but I threw a punch testing it out. The mount slid back toward the wall with the bag. Don’t be too impressed, it needs more weight. But I quickly followed up with another jab and another, feeling far more control over my body. Balanced, empowered by a strong connection with the floor, and able to quickly move and adjust, I danced around the bag. I felt alive. This was far better.

To bring it to bear on the above quote, I became aware of my balance. In a fighting stance, you never want to roll back on your heels. It puts you in a place of vulnerability. On the edge of balance, if not off balance, and unable to respond to your opponent. I could have missed it, or ignored it, left it as a momentary lapse and gone back to business as usual. Instead, I chose to delve a little deeper and ask why. That why led me to greater awareness. I accepted what I found, responded and powered up as a result.

Awareness is indispensable to growth. Without it, we don’t know we need what we need. Sometimes we see things on our own. Contemplative practice and meditation are tools to help us along the way. Other times we need help. I’m sure a coach would uncover myriad other things to improve my stance and striking. Just as counselors open doors to delve deeper into the mind.

Acceptance is the second necessary step. It requires courage. I don’t like being confronted with my flaws, and knowing them is uncomfortable. It necessitates change, and change will often make us uncomfortable. The more aggressive stance felt unnatural to me, and still does. It will until it doesn’t. But I can’t argue with the results. It gives me greater mobility, power and control over my body.

So, in all areas, I hope that we will strive to be aware. “The first step towards change is awareness.” And then, I pray we will have the courage to accept it, because without acceptance we’ll never be able to move beyond awareness into actual growth.



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