Wednesday, November 24, 2010
It's Thanksgiving Every Day
It's that time of year again - the beginning of the holiday season. Off to Vegas tomorrow at 5 am for the weekend; only this time there will be only one son in attendance and none of my daughter- in-law's side of the family. I like a bigger crowd on this holiday. It's easier to embrace the joy when there is more to spread around. So it's #1 son, my daughter-in-law and the three grandsons - oh, and did I mention my ex-husband. He'll be along, too. "Back together again." Not really. He has no place to go since his wife has Alzheimer's and I always head east when there is a holiday. I'm not brave enough to face Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or Christmas alone. Single is great but not around the holidays.
I was reading in my Yoga Journal today about gratitude. We yogis know that gratitude is a natural companion to a yoga practice. In every class I teach, I we take a moment of gratitude for all of our gifts, especially the gift of yoga. It's is as natural as breathing to take that spiritual moment to be mindful of cultivating gratitude. Gratitude is also important for health implications, including better sleep, fewer ailments, and a greater ability to cope with stress and anxiety. Gratitude elevates, energizes and inspires. It can also transform a human being into a kinder, gentler spirit because it fosters a greater level of awareness. Gratitude helps us stay present.
Gratitude is an attitude of realizing what is in our present - what is real and what we surround ourselves with in life. The contrary of gratitude would be to grasp for something that is not there instead of embracing what is. One of the things that helps us connect to what is real is to embrace the interconnectedness of all beings as a path to gratitude. In a sense, gratitude is interactive every minute of the day if one is consciousness and mindful of everything that goes on in our waking hours.
It is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and my burg was full of endless lines of cars. I pulled out of the drugstore parking lot and thought it would take me a half hour to drive two blocks. I had to cut into an inlet to make a U turn, and while I waited for the car in front of me to go, I saw that the man driving the SUV had not jammed into the intersection to block us from making a left hand turn. Could it be, I thought, that this man might let us pass in front of him? I absolutely couldn't believe it when he let the car ahead of me and even myself go before him. I had such gratitude for his kindness and I felt such a connectedness to this man I will never know, that I waved to him, mouthed a thank you and drove off feeling uplifted. It was a moment in time, so brief that I could have quickly jumped to the next thing. But I couldn't. It was too important to cherish the moment.
Gratitude is the path of yoga and gratitude is the way in which we ground ourselves in life. Cultivating daily gratitude gives us the ability to transform and appreciate joy.
Gratitude comes in big and small packages. It's everywhere. It's in an email from a friend I don't always hear from on a regular basis but embraces my life with joy. It comes in a phone call from a friend I really wanted to hear from. It comes with knowing I helped my client this morning find inner peace in her practice even though she is almost in her ninth month of pregnancy and is looking past her discomfort. It's expressing joy that my law school yoginis have been searching for an alternative room so that we can practice in the winter quarter and keep our class going. It's embracing a friend who has been working so hard the last couple of days to feed the homeless at St. Matthew's parish in the Palisades and finding joy in her efforts. It is organizing a dinner to say farewell to a dedicated yogini who is moving in a week. Gratitude is everywhere. All it takes to cultivate it is practice.
I am grateful this year for my growing family - two more grandchildren added to the bunch - for the tenacity and dedication of my sons in their professions and in their roles as fathers and to their supportive and loving wives; for my incredibly loving brother; my devoted yoga students; for the opportunity to continue to teach yoga; for my tenacity to once again publish a book that I had no idea would find an audience; for the new friends I've made and the old friends I cherish; for the ability to forgive; and for the ability to embrace my universe unconditionally with surrender and acceptance.
Happy Thanksgiving, Boomers.