guest post by Amy Freeman
It’s easy to be grateful when everything is going our way, but what about when it’s not? How do we shift our focus from burdens, misfortunes and challenges to the abundance that already exists?
A few months ago, I was the victim of burglary. Someone broke into our house and stole most of our valuables and a few irreplaceable family heirlooms. Fortunately, none of my family was home at the time. Even though I tried to console myself with the thought that things are not as valuable as people, I still mourned the loss of our sentimental items. More than that, my home, my sanctuary felt violated. I spent the next several months feeling anxious, helpless and fearful.
Not content to wallow in unhappy feelings, I searched hard to find the lesson in my loss. What could I learn, appreciate or share? What was there to be grateful for? Upon sharing my story, three dear friends came over on a Friday evening and spent three hours cleansing and blessing my house and family. Another friend immediately leant me an extra laptop. It’s often during difficult times that we are given opportunities to grow. With the outpouring of support from family, friends and my yoga community, I was reminded of the goodness all around me.
Gratitude is a spiritual practice that teaches us to give thanks for all of Life: the blessings, burdens, joys and setbacks. To say we are grateful is not to say everything about our life is great or that we’re happy with our lives the way they are. Struggle and hardship will always be a part of life but living a grateful life means refusing to allow those negative experiences to dictate your response to life.
Rather than waiting to feel satisfied when we get that promotion, new iPhone, or practice the perfect scorpion pose, allow yourself to feel joy and gratitude for the small things already present: the fact that you made it to class, hit all the green lights on the way to work, or that the sun is shining overhead. Use gratitude to keep things in perspective. Transforming your life into a grateful one is a process and it’s not easy. Every time those dark feelings of fear or anxiety come up I have to consciously tell myself to pay attention to the blessings of abundance and grace in my life.
“A hundred times a day I remind myself that my life depends on the labors of others, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give, in measure as I have received, and am still receiving.” -Albert Einstein
Just as yoga seeks to bring more awareness to the experiences of the Self and the physical practice of yoga increases your body and breath awareness, practicing gratitude conditions your emotional awareness. Regular practice leads to feelings of appreciation, compassion, love and generosity. Living in gratitude connects us to the good vibration of the Universe. When we are in sync and aligned with the Universe, rooted in the real, we can go out into the world mindful of our place in this grand symphony called Life. With gratitude and thanksgiving we are aware of our connectedness, interdependence and Oneness.
A Thanksgiving Exercise in Gratitude:
Every morning write down 3-5 things for which you are grateful. It is important to write them down. At night write down 3-5 things for which you are grateful that happened during the day. Commit to this practice for ONE week (or the rest of the year!) and watch your life begin to transform.
Amy Freeman teaches Vinyasa Flow at noon on Tuesday and Thursday and at 10:30 am on Saturday at Yoga One. Amy’s vinyasa classes blend physical alignment and core strength in a fluid rhythm. Her goal is always to help her students find and maintain a peaceful mind and body.