I can always count on yoga classes to stir up motivation- and today was no different. I took the time to attend two classes this morning, and I’m really glad I did. The first was difficult and taught at a high-level. From standing half-moon to warrior 3 variations to a bunch of other stuff I can’t seem to remember right now, it was enough of a challenge that the days topic of gratitude didn’t really have a chance to sink in. I then stayed for a beginner class, and with the slower pace and more reflective time, I was able to work with gratitude a bit more.
It occurred to me that at this time of year, so many of us begin to think about the things we’re grateful for. It could be the changing of the seasons that naturally promotes more self-study and reflection, it could be people gearing up for Thansgiving, or it could be a more social activity for some, as can be seen on Facebook and similar. It appears we often say or think we are grateful for something, but how often do we show gratitude for these same things. Or take it from just a mental or intellectual type of gratitude, to a more emotional or energetic thanks-giving.
The example most relevant to me right now is the physical body. Just the other day I was thinking about how I am grateful that I am able-bodied. I don’t have any physical ailments, am healthy, am active and have the means to do what I want to do, on my own, without much, if any, assistance. Many people don’t have the “luxury”…it’s neither good nor bad, just a different experience. However, as an able-bodied person, I can’t really imagine not being able-bodied, so it makes sense to me to be grateful. I thought it, I maybe said it out loud and that was it. I moved on to the next thing.
Today, in class, we were asked to give thanks to our bodies. I then took that further and thought about taking language out of the equation and just through my mindful movements and breath, showed my body how grateful I was for the work it was doing. I used my heart to give thanks to my body, rather than using my mind. It seems odd, it sounds odd…I get that. But I ended a really difficult class with a new appreciation for what my body and breath were able to do, and a new understanding that they are capable of much more than I often give enough credit. They are with me; they sustain me. They are there for me- able to support me in times of happiness, sadness, joy, anguish and indifference. And I got the opportunity to spend two hours just being with them today. What a great way to show gratitude to myself!
The interesting thing is I didn’t even realize, until after-the-fact, that often our gratitude is just at the spoken, surface level, rather than a true feeling or showing. I’m just as guilty as anyone. But yet, one’s process of showing thanks is highly individual. Not everyone would derive the same sort of experience I did, and many others may have a deep connection with speaking their gratitudes. Whatever works for you, go with that. In this season of shortening days, darkness and cool weather, take the time to reflect on what you’re grateful for, and maybe even think about how you can live this gratitude. Rather than just thinking it, how can we show and live our gratitude? If it’s a friend, maybe a personal card thanking them for their support would be nice. If it’s a pet, maybe a special treat could be fun. If it’s a partner, try giving yourself to them 100% and see what it feels like to be truly present to them for an evening. The possibilities are infinite. As has been discussed in other posts, I believe awareness is key. Rather than just living mindlessly and taking advantage, we could all take a moment each day to be aware of that which sustains us, helps us, loves us, supports us and is of and around us. There is much there to be thankful for. Rather than giving thanks this thanksgiving season, let us show thanks. May the beauty of our hearts radiate inward and outward.