I’d like to live in the plane of gratitude, not just offer it up when I’m feeling warm and loved. In the way that some pray without ceasing, living and acting from a place of gratitude would have a profound effect on my frame of mind. Instead of shouting at Abe, my dog, for digging up the grass in the backyard and tracking in mud all over the house, I’d consider my (justified!) anger alongside how much I love him, and how wonderful a presence he is in my home and my life.
Instead of banging kitchen utensils around in frustration with the half-burned granola I need for one week’s worth of breakfast, I might realize I have the money to buy new ingredients, and be grateful something (even if it is half-burned) will fill my belly each morning to fuel me for that day.
I find it’s often hardest to practice gratitude in the midst of a challenge. Emily, the owner of Blossom Yoga Studio in Laramie, taught a yoga class recently where she constantly encouraged us students to cultivate gratitude, and yet she was simultaneously guiding us into very challenging poses like arm balances.
I found myself immediately criticizing – my legs weren’t straight, my hips weren’t high enough off the ground…. There was so much for which I could be thankful, though – the strength of my arms, shoulders, and core; the flexibility of my hamstrings; my perseverance and power; my ability to breathe while I balance; even my having the time for this class, and the teacher, and the studio itself.
When we fall into pattern and familiarity, it’s easier for us to see what’s missing rather than what’s present, which is part of the reason the Holidays can be so hard for people. Families change; people grow up, move away, marry, divorce, and pass on.
Yet great and disruptive change gives us an amazing opportunity to take note of what it is we hold dear, that for which we’re thankful. And once we notice these things, we can turn them over in our minds until they become woven into the very fabric of our way of living, until they become a constant prayer.
I am thankful for the people in my life who love and care about me. I am thankful for the ever-changing seasons. I am thankful for my house and my home, this little town of Laramie in the wide open state of Wyoming. I am thankful for the snow-capped mountains that loom large over Laramie. I am thankful for nourishing food and libations. I am thankful, as always, for a good book (right now I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed). I am thankful for yoga, the yoga community, and for my healthy body.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!