“Life is such a miracle, and a lot of the time we feel only resentment about
how it’s all working out for us.” – Pema Chodren
The leaves are falling (even a little snow), the air is crisp, and we’re done with kurmasana as our asana of the month. Insert squeal of glee. As we move into this fresh month, I’m overcome with a sense of excitement of what lies ahead. We’re moving into the festivities of holiday season, nature beckons us to heed her call for hibernation, and I’ve just completed attendance at my fifth conference since Labor Day. Whew! While I adore learning new things, I may have reached my fill . . . for at least a week or two.
The above quote offers an essential reminder to bask in the essence of gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunity to wake up each day with a fresh start. Despite being surrounded by more paperwork, creativity tools, and reclaimed clothing than I know what to do with, it’s necessary to see the miracle. Yes, it’s there among the chaos. Promise!
November serves up Thanksgiving – a holiday devoted to giving thanks surrounded by family and friends (and heaps of yoga at Tranquil Space). At times we can become preoccupied with what is lacking, missing, or not quite how we’d like it to be. Yet, taking a moment to contemplate what IS working - especially in these challenging times – can have profound effects. As noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade.”
As I pass people on the street, I hear a constant exchange of complaints. Yes, life can be hard. Yes, people will misunderstand us. Yes, we make mistakes. Yes, our back hurts. One simple mantra that helps when challenged with daily drama is RESPOND VS REACT. It can make a world of difference, opens up a chance to explore the scenario (think svadhyaya), and note the many lessons learned. There are always lessons – sometimes way more than we’re ready for and at very inconvenient times, but I digress.
Back to gratitude. During my Halloween Yoga + Meditation class last night (complete with Stephen as Superman and Laarni as Katy Perry), I read a beautiful quote from a favorite book, Simple Abundance: “You have no idea of the countless lives you touch in the course of your lifetime.” Rather than fueling these experiences with complaints and negativity, why not explore what IS working and how best to enhance what needs improvement? Yes, sounds so simple and I promise that living this mantra can have produce profoud results.
When presented with new ideas, I like bullet points that explain how to incorporate said idea into daily life. Well, we’ve all probably heard of penning a gratitude journal - noting a few things that you are grateful for each day. Studies show it can have profound effects. And here are other ways to express gratitude such as visual reminders, having a gratitude partner (coming to the Tranquil Space team soon via amazing teacher, Abby), and changing self-talk. My goodness, there is even an iPhone app called Happy Tapper to help you keep track electronically! Yay, gratitude opportunities abound.
So as we move into this beautiful month of November, I encourage you to take a step back, notice your response to what comes up in everyday life, and explore ways to embrace it as a miracle instead of a struggle. It all begins with gratitude for everything (and everyone) that comes along. As Pema Chodren reminds us, “You can leave your marriage, you can quit your job, you can only go where people are going to praise you, you can manipulate your world until you’re blue in the face to try to make it always smooth, but the same demons will always come up until finally you have learned your lesson, the lesson they came to teach you. Then some same demons will appear as friendly, warmhearted companions on the path.” May we learn our many lessons and allow these warmhearted companions accompany us on this journey of life.
In the meantime, I’m planning my next conference to conquer. Happy November!