I recently read an essay from one of my yoga teacher training students, in which she discussed how she continually practices being grateful, even when things don’t go her way. It reminded me how easy it is to let the circumstances of life dictate how we feel. You can clearly see it in the sun starved faces of Seattleites these past few weeks. When it’s sunny and warm, we feel joyous and energized. When it’s rainy and cold, we feel lethargic and depressed.
One goal of yoga is to learn how to find internal peace, so that regardless of the “weather” in our internal or external worlds, our mind is calm, centered and content. The teachings tell us that we cannot control what happens in the world around us. But we can control how we react to it.
I once listened to a wonderful recording by Joan Borysenko, in which she discussed practices of gratitude. I can’t remember the title anymore, but I adapted a practice from it that I use to keep myself connected to the joy and beauty of my life, even when I feel down and things seem to spin out of control. This practice reminds me that no matter how “awful” things seem at any given moment, there are always many, many things for which to be grateful.
Like many important things in life, the practice is simple, yet powerful. Each night, before falling asleep, I recount at least 10 things that I was grateful for in that day.
To be completely honest, some days it’s harder than others. But I can always do it, even on days that have been truly challenging on every level. And the practice makes me pay attention and seek out the small joys I might otherwise miss each day. It doesn’t matter how big or how small, every day brings gifts that make me smile.
For example, today I am grateful for:
- The cool breeze wafting through my living room window.
- The purple color in the center of the orchids next to the studio fountain.
- The soft, silky spot behind my dog’s ears
- The sound of the neighborhood woodpecker as he drills on our metal chimney top.
- The white breasted bird that sat on the line outside my window this morning.
- Reconnecting with my 82 year old Aunt on Facebook.
- The seemingly endless support of my husband, even when I’m doing something he doesn’t agree with or want me to do.
- The yummy taste of Blackthorn cider.
- The delightful E-card I just received from a dear friend as I typed this blog entry.
The essence of gratitude resides in things both big and small. This practice keeps me connected to all that is wonderful in my world on a daily basis. I hope you try it and benefit from it as much as I have!
Namaste and may you have many things for which to be grateful.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle!