Okay, well it’s Wednesday again and I’m supposed to be focusing on gratitude. And I’m just not feeling it. My neck hurts-I’m not sure why, my tummy is mildly upset and I’m feeling pretty down. Basically I’m feeling more broken than usual. I’m feeling sad and overwhelmed and lost all at the same time. Not a great time to focus on gratitude.
Except. It’s the perfect time to focus on gratitude. I may whine and kick and scream getting there, but gratitude is one of the most powerful mindfulness practices. The Buddha called cultivating mindfulness “gladdening of the heart”. By counting our blessings we see our lives fully and not just the part that is most pressing to our minds right now. So it is exactly what is called for here. Because I could sure use some heart gladdening today.
The simple act of giving thanks and being mindful of your life helps shift your perspective. Phillip Moffitt, Buddhist and meditation teacher says that gratitude helps you have direct connection to your life. It helps you be present with the story that is your life and when you step back and look at where you’ve been and how far you’ve come with all the ups and downs you realize how much you have to be thankful for. And, perhaps more importantly, you realize that while your present difficulties are very real they are fleeting.
Ultimately gratitude helps us lose our attachment. This precept in yoga is called aparigraha and translates to non-hoarding or non-grasping. As yogis we work to release our attachment to things, to our ego’s need for defining ourselves finitely and our fear of change. Gratitude helps us understand the impermanence of life. We start to see that we are ever-changing, ever-growing and slowly, SLOWLY we start to let go of our need to keep things the same.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t have things. People seem to get very touchy about this one. You can have things, what we want to lose is the feeling that our things somehow define us. How can you work on this? Gratitude. Funny how it keeps popping up right? By being grateful and understanding the big picture we begin to lose the feeling that we somehow deserve our things, that they help create our personas or that they make us better than our neighbors. Things become just things.
So how is that going to help me feel better today? Frankly, it already has. I know it sounds silly or trite, but just writing this has helped a whole lot. I do remember that this too shall pass. And for that I’m grateful. I’m remembering how much I like to write and I’m getting to do that and I’m thankful. I love the practice of yoga, ALL of it. I love the asanas, the pose, but I love the spiritual teachings and I love being able to teach them. I am finally at an age in my life where I understand that we take what’s in front of us, make it our own, and pass it back to the world. And it is what it is. I’m not a better or worse yoga teacher than anyone else out there. I’m just Melissa, the yoga teacher. Some people really respond to how I see it and spit it back and some people will move on and find someone else who they connect with. And that’s good. I’m grateful for the opportunity of being able to find connection. I’m grateful for being able to teach. I’m grateful that I have a partner who supports me an encourages me to teach yoga.
Basically, I’m a pretty lucky woman. My life is filled with the ups and downs that everyone has, sometimes a few more downs. But I also know that the downs are where I find growth. The down times help me learn and help me develop spiritually.
And what have I learned? I’ve learned that I’m strong and I’m capable and that I will do better than survive. I’ve been through a lot and there is nothing I can’t handle. And for that I’m grateful.
Next week I’ll try to approach it with more enthusiasm. Feel free to share what you’re grateful for.