A couple of weeks ago I had dinner with a fellow Integral Yoga teacher here in DC. The entire night, through every topic of conversation, she conveyed a consistent and pure attitude of gratitude. Lucky coincidences, not-so-lucky mishaps and even the presence of a pet dog in her life were explained with inspiring purpose, acceptance and positivity.
On the train ride home, I was thinking about my own yearning to be thankful for all of life’s gifts, accepting of “growth opportunities” and positive through anything. I recalled when my house burned down in May, 1999; I lost pretty much everything except the clothes on my back (and my drums, which were with me in the car). Aside from organizing a clothing-drive for me, my good friend Rosa gave me a peculiar gift. A journal called “Counting My Blessings, ” which instructed me to “remember five things to be grateful for every day.”
I was like, “Hello!?!? My house burned down! What could I be grateful for?”
“Sunday, 20 June, 1999: la música, spirit, inspiration, rain, pajamas, dad, hearts, souls. Tuesday, 27 July, 1999: life, my life, to be alive, to live, to breathe, to love, to see, to feel, to touch, to smell, to smile, to think, to exist, to love music.”
Month-by-month, my appreciation for life’s simple gifts was awakening. Where I’d felt shocked and emptied after the fire, the practice of gratitude was filling me with peace, healing the trauma. To this day, I write a gratitude list each night at bedtime. (Thank you, Rosa.)
I think of gratitude as the harmony that exists between giving and receiving.
Connecting to our bi-monthly focus of cultivating restfulness throughout a hectic holiday season (see “Firm and Pleasant” post), consider this – can we find peace and healing despite inevitable stress? Can I unfailingly act like a yogi, keep my cool and feel grateful in the midst of dysfunctional family gatherings, crushed shopping malls and backed-up highways?
Indeed, with some effort I’ll do my best to find restfulness along the way. A nightly gratitude list is one fail-safe tool. It takes effort to give thanks; and it’s oh-so-easy to receive gifts. If I take the time to count my blessings, I feel a shift. Despite lack of harmony around or within me, things bug me less when I recognize how lucky I am.
I invite you to try writing a gratitude list each day between now and Thanksgiving. Include at least five things that you appreciate, love, are thankful for – whether or not holiday stress, financial burden, family dysfunction, health issues or other challenges are getting you down. Mine for today is below.
Wishing you the harmony of gratitude this Thanksgiving holiday. OM Shanti.
GRATITUDE LIST – WEDNESDAY, 18 NOVEMBER, 2009
- Pranayama practices helping my seasonal asthma.
- A yoga-hike in Rock Creek Park.
- More productivity in my job search.
- Friends asking for help.
- Friends’ problems lightening up a bit.
- The opportunity to teach yoga to kids.
- And adults.
- All resources so generously shared for healing and growth.
- Being able to pass those on.
- Friends’ support and love.
- Not dwelling so much on murders.
- Finding peace in school kids’ laughter.
- So much, so much.
- Life, love, HP/nature.