In my Hits the Spot Yoga classes, we enrich our practice by focusing on a particular theme for each season, often doing a 2-3 minute contemplation of a quote or an excerpt from an article or book that offers a certain take on the theme.
In the Fall, our theme is gratitude/savoring. In the Winter, it’s forgiveness/lovingkindness. In the Spring, we focus on mindfulness. And in the Summer, we practice contentment/fun.
It’s Fall (at least for a little while longer), and I want to say that among the many aspects of my life for which I’m grateful, one particular area stands out today: I’m very thankful for the folks that come here to practice and study yoga with me. They are very bright, kindhearted folks who fully feel their humanity, and have great senses of humor.
This year, two of them gave me versions of Melody Beattie’s orientation toward gratitude. Putting the two together, it goes like this:
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order and confusion into clarity.
It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
I find this to be a very compelling orientation, one that I would like to continue to cultivate. I also find it challenging to dwell there for very long.
That’s why I consider gratitude (and, for that matter, forgiveness, lovingkindness, mindfulness and contentment) a practice. Like anything, when I practice something, I’m more apt to experience the desired outcome more often, and gratitude is no exception.
These days, we begin our classes with a short gratitude contemplation, bringing into our field of attention someone for whom we feel grateful or something for which we feel grateful, breathing deeply down into the belly and cultivating that feeling state of gratitude.
Doing this makes it more likely that I’ll do it in my daily life, stopping for three minutes or so, taking a few deep breaths, and saying to myself, “I feel so grateful for ____________ .”
I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that life can be very challenging at times. And when I’m able to remember to practice gratitude, forgiveness, lovingkindness and contentment, I often find a degree of freedom even in challenging times.
I’m very thankful that I found yoga 28 years ago. I’ve been practicing it, and all its many wonderful aspects, with great love and appreciation ever since. What a gift it is to all of us.
To learn about how gratitude cultivates and supports the experience of joy, go to the YouTube clip of Brene Brown talking with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. It’s six minutes that could change your life! It sure did that for me!
Founder/Director– Hits the Spot Yoga