why gratitude is the only reasonable response to life. #MeditationThoughtMondays

gratitude balasana

It’s November and Facebook is blowing up with ‘Thankful Lists.’ These lists say something like, “Today I’m thankful for my house, my family, my car, my bathtub and my Pumpkin Spice latte.”  My list usually includes my space heater and my warm socks.  2013-10-17 16.03.15

I love November because people start thinking about expressing gratitude for all of the conveniences in their lives and they smile a little bit more.

But gratitude deserves more attention than your 30-day Facebook List.  It deserves more attention than the ten minutes at the Thanksgiving table when your family members identify one thing they are grateful for before digging into fall roasted veggies.

In reality, gratitude is the only reasonable response to being alive.

Why? Because if you really think about it, being alive is practically a miracle.

Whether or not you pause to acknowledge it, a joyful, abundant, and healthy life is pouring itself upon you in each moment.  

This is one reason we practice finding and paying attention to the ‘Present Moment’ in yoga. And it’s the whole reason that yoga makes us happier. Michael Brown explains this in his book The Presence Process. He writes:

“What is Present Moment Awareness?

It is a State of Being in which we effortlessly integrate the authentic and Divine Presence that we are with each God-Given moment that we are in so that we are able to respond consciously to every experience we are having. 

By accomplishing this, our response is always the same: gratitude.” 

Meaning: if I’m aware that the moment I’m living is part of a joyful, abundant, and healthy life, then the ONLY reasonable response is gratitude. That’s all there is to it.

My challenge to you? It’s the same challenge I give at the end of every yoga class I teach:

Take a moment to the do the most important thing you will do all day: extend your deepest gratitude for this moment and for all of the many blessings which bring you joy in this life.”

What are your blessings?  What brings you joy?  What are you grateful for?

My GRATITUDE MEDITATION CHALLENGE uses my favorite Gratitude Meditation.  You can find it here.  Please join me in 60 seconds of Gratitude Meditation every day for 20 days. One minute, one thought, one day at a time. New to Meditation? Check out my tips for beginners: Learn to Meditate Your Way.”

-lisa

2 lessons yoga has taught me.

2 lessons yoga has taught me.

A few months ago, my dear friend and yoga student Stina Hergott blasted a post on her Pink Moon KC Blog called “10 lessons My Bike Has Taught Me.”  It got me thinking.  And thinking.  And thinking: could I narrow my list of ‘lessons that yoga has taught me’ to a list of 10?

Well. As it turns out, I can synthesize my list to two.

  1. There is only today.
  2. There is always tomorrow.
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photo cred Saunders Fine Arts

 

1. There is only today.  Yoga is not a hobby or an activity.  Yoga is a practice.  Which means every time I practice yoga, it’s a practice of learning to be actively engaged in the present moment.  The present moment may be super enjoyable.  It may be slightly uncomfortable.  It is the only moment I have.

Yoga is a meditation on the Spirit that is found within the breath.  I can’t breathe into the future and I can’t breathe in the past.  Which means I shouldn’t let my mind live in the future and I shouldn’t let my mind live in the past.  Which means: there is now.  And there is today.  And if I desire patience, I practice that today.  And if I desire compassion, I practice that today.  And if I desire to be filled with God-light, to spread forgiveness, to find moments of hidden healing joy everywhere I look, I practice today.  When my shoulder was injured last fall, my daily Ashtanga practice was often excruciating.  (As was opening my car door, taking my Russell for a walk, and holding my coffee mug…ugh, much better now, thank you.)  So I challenged myself to ask this question when I was practicing:  “What if this were my last opportunity to take Downward Facing Dog Pose?  If that were the case, how would I want it to feel?  How would I want to enjoy it?”  Turns out: I would want to SAVOR it.  Yoga taught me that there is only today.  And today is to be savored. 

2. There is always tomorrow.  I like to accomplish things.  (Some might call me an over-achiever, yes, you, Mimi.)  Yoga taught me that it’s ok not to be perfect today.  I can attempt a pose (such as Royal Pigeon, which was my New Year’s Resolution in 2008 and I still can’t do!) and not freak out that I can’t do it.  I can’t take the full expression of this pose, YET.  Yet being the key word here, because there is always tomorrow.  I can get back on my mat tomorrow, even if I am sore, or tired, or cranky and: I can try again.  My all-time favorite Yoga Inspiration comes from Rolf Gates’ book Meditations from the Mat and it says this:

“We show up, we live passionately, we burn brightly in the moment, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.”

Yoga taught me that life doesn’t require perfection, it simply requires me to savor the present moment and do my personal best… then let go of the results.  This lesson, more than anything else I’ve learned from practicing and teaching yoga, has had the greatest impact on my experience with the world and my often-anxious mind.  It has offered me peace of mind, it has calmed my anxiety, and it has truly healed my body and my heart. 

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photo cred Saunders Fine Arts

 

 

There is only today.  There is always tomorrow. 

What lessons has your yoga practice taught you? Please, share with me.  I would love to hear your answer.

-lisa