Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Living With Gratitude
I woke up one morning last week full of gratitude for my life. It was an ordinary day - Wednesday, I think - and I thought about all that I had going on in my life. The privilege o teaching yoga all over UCLA campus, attending to my private yoga students who faithfully practice yoga every week with me, my book signing and reading for Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer, at Book Soup, the hippest bookstore in LA and probably one of the best in the country, five flourishing grandchildren, two amazing adult sons, a brother whose support and unconditional love is truly brilliant, and lots of loving friends. I live light. I live in a one bedroom apartment with only minimal furnishings but the choices I've made inside my home are meaningful. I am surrounded by love. I have gratitude.
And gratitude leads me to thoughts about the Middle East. I look over my yoga classes at my beautiful and dedicated students and I am aware that any one of us could have been born in a country that is now in turmoil. We could be in the streets marching for freedom, running from thugs with weapons, put under arrest for being the opposition, sleeping nightly in doorways without sustenance or surrounded by family love, patiently waiting for a sign that the kleptocracts, the autocrats, the barbarians behind the palaces will listen to the painful cries of their people and leave the political stage where their corruption has left their people without education, opportunities and a decent way to fully live their lives.
We live in our protective and nurturing environment unaware of the true nature of suffering and repression. That idea blows my mind. We were born in America; we are citizens of a country that although an imperfect democracy gives us our freedoms and provides opportunities for choices. We do not live 60 years behind the times; we do not live without resources; we have food and services that will take care of those less fortunate. No, this is not a perfect country. People fall through the cracks, loose their jobs and are marginalized. But our basic values are sound and we are a work in progress, ever-expanding our horizons and providing room for growth in our governmental institutions.
I tell my students to offer gratitude daily - in yoga class, walking to class, taking a break from studying, before eating, before sleeping, before taking a test, whenever/wherever. Giving gratitude is way to take a mini meditation, to breath deeply, to reflect on the many gifts we have in our lives.
With gratitude it is easier to forgive. It is easier to live a joyous life. Gratitude and forgiveness - the essence of living well.