The Enlightening Mat: Living Bitter Sweet Change

You know I can't change, I can't change, 
I can't change, I can't change 
But I'm here in my mold 
I am here in my mold 
And I'm a million different people 
from one day to the next 
I can't change my mold 
No, no, no, no, no 

- The Verve, Bitter Sweet Symphony

Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve is one of my favorite songs from the 90s and tucked away in the middle of the lyrics is this incredible lament about change.

Do we have the power to change? If so, how much can we change in ourselves? And exactly how do we go about making these changes in our lives?

The concept of change has been endlessly fascinating for me over the last twenty years from dealing with addictive behavior and new lifestyle choices to rethinking how I use language to communicate with others.

My book Lemonade Mantras grew out of a sincere desire to change the way I treated myself and all my relationships. Working through the Lemonade Mantras 10-step process forces me to look at my beliefs about myself and others and see New Choices that I can make regarding my perceptions.

For instance, do I really believe that someone is hurting me with their behavior or am I misinterpreting the situation and missing an opportunity to empathize with another person's pain? Do I need someone to take care of a particular problem for me or am I wanting to learn how to take care of my own problems? Do I truly believe that my loneliness is a result of circumstances outside my control or am I constructing my life in a way to be purposefully lonely?

Lemonade Mantras is a recipe for "how-to" take the stuff you don't like about yourself and change it into something positive that serves your deepest nature, which then opens you to being at your best in all your relationships.

Doing the Lemonade Mantras 10-step process, where I turn my judgments about myself and others (Old Choices) into New Choices -- positive ways of thinking about difficult circumstances -- I see that I have the power to change my perceptions and create moments that lead to new understandings and new ways of being.

In this context, the Lemonade Mantras 10-step process is like bittersweet yoga for the brain, developing a more flexible mind that is willing to accept alternative information, which leads to new choices, behaviors, and habits that change your life.

Caughlin Ranch Wildfire, Reno, Nevada: Beth Hemmila

Another way I increase the flexibility of my thinking is by becoming aware of my negative thoughts during yoga class -- such as "I can't do that," "I don't want to do that," I'm too tired to do that," etc. During Bikram yoga, I am fully aware that the only thing standing in the way of me completing the full expression of a couple postures is my thinking.

For example, standing separate leg stretching pose requires you to spread your legs apart and touch your head between your feet on the floor. I've seen myself touch my head to the floor in the past many times, but sometimes I choose not to do it simply because I hear a little voice in my head telling me to take it easy and skip this step. Nevertheless, I am fully aware in this situation that believing that my hips and legs aren't loose enough is the only thing stopping me from touching my head to the floor. Examining the flexibility of my belief system in Bikram yoga I see that I have the power to choose to touch my head or not.


Maybe you're in a period of dramatic change or perhaps you feel stuck. Either way, I invite you to turn up the volume to Bitter Sweet Symphony, spin around the room, and feel that you are not alone with your internal lament regarding change. I'm guessing we all feel stuck in our molds from time to time and experience the suffering that comes with this belief. If at some point you desire to break through your mold, I hope you'll consider increasing the flexibility of your mind, body, and spirit as a way to create change.

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga.

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures


  1. Wow I so totally loved this post. I found that is was something that I needed to hear "right now"! I have just gone through a dramatic change in my life, moving from my family, friends and a job that I loved in Chicago, down to Florida to take care of my father. Talk about loneliness! You really got my attention with this and thank you for that.

  2. I'm so glad this post caught you at the right time and it connects with your current experience! Thanks for checking in and finding something you could takeaway and apply to your life :)


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