Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you to my dear friends and family who have supported me on my transition into following my dreams and passion. I am so grateful for you, your support, trust, and love. I could not have taken the leap without you all.
One of my favorite things to talk about in class is gratitude. Cultivating a strong sense of graciousness and gratitude helps you to plug into life that much more--to really connect with the energy of the community; to feel what you share with others. Taking this practice to the mat helps me to fine tune it and gives me a chance to really reflect on it, which is sometimes a process that can be easily forgotten! Focusing on and experiencing negative things is a reality for everyone, but the first step is to realize it and then maybe counter it with gratitude. Sometimes I just start out thinking about the immediate things I am grateful for like my functioning body and mind, the time I have to practice, my friends and family, being part of a community, and from there it is easier to expand my thinking to other more general things (like having general safety, people who love me, planet earth, the warmth of the sun, etc).
It is often said that if you are thinking about what you are grateful for, you cannot be feeling fear or anxiety. Not only does gratitude just make you feel good, it has some deeper implications that can fuel your journey to contentment and stillness. Tapping into the graciousness of the universe and feeling truly supported by it presents a feeling that is sometimes hard to hold onto because it is so abundant and so beautiful.
"It is, as the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, the gift of the whole universe. When you stop and really look, you see that you are supported continuously in literally countless ways. This is the highest wisdom of yoga, the truth of interbeing, of no separation" (Frank Jude from www.yogajournal.com).
It also has physiological consequences (like a stronger immune system and the reducing the risk of coronary artery disease)! The mind-body connection of gratitude is strong. According to a UMASS Dartmouth article, people who practice gratitude are more likely to have higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, energy, and sleep!
Some outlets for the expression of gratitude:
1. Write down 3 things you are grateful for everyday or when you feel like it!
2. Over dinner, tell your roommate or partner 3 - 5 things you are grateful for that happened to you.
3. Keep a gratefulness journal.
4. Write a note to your friend or a family member about why you are grateful to have them in your life.
What are your favorite ways to express gratitude? Do you have a gratitude practice?
One last thought to reflect on. One of my teachers gave this poem to me in at a tumultuous time in my life, and it frequently reminds me to be grateful for things I don't naturally want to be grateful for:
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
translation by Coleman Barks