There’s nothing like a good fright or a “near death” experience to remind you to be grateful for all that you have. One day recently, I forgot to blow out a candle after my morning yoga routine. I meditated, finished getting ready, had some breakfast and was out the door to work for 12+ hours. When I arrived home that evening, I noticed a glow coming from the front bedroom. I hurried upstairs to find a pool of melted wax, and a delicate flame still burning. I blew out the candle, and extinguished my absentmindedness with it. My heart was pounding at thought of what I could have come home to.
I began to feel extremely grateful for the lesson, and became acutely aware of the gratitude I was feeling for all that I have — my home, my dogs, my family, my friends, my life.
While yoga asana (poses) and meditation have become part of my ritual everyday, I’d forgotten about a previous ritual I used to do. Right before bed, I would journal about what I was grateful for that day, and I’d let that crucial exercise lapse.
Be appreciative every single day, even of the rough situations as there may be something to be learned. A few months ago, I had to spend $1200 on house repairs in a very short time. A friend commented, “man, that sucks. aren’t you frustrated?” I can honestly say that the first feeling I had was thankfulness. I am thankful that I have a home that I can repair. I am thankful for the job that affords me that home and those repairs.
If you’re constantly focusing on everything you don’t have, didn’t accomplish or “can’t” do, you’re perpetuating that state of negativity and stagnation. On the other hand, if you regularly spotlight your own abundance, prosperity is naturally drawn to you and you feel better. There have actually been studies, including one out of Kent State that concluded subjects’ levels of happiness and life satisfaction improved after regular practices of gratitude . In addition, depressive symptoms decreased over time with the letter writing.
Try this Gratitude Exercise: Light a candle, and sit quietly for a few minutes at the end of your day. Connect with your breath, and begin to think about what went well, what you enjoyed about your day. Write down all that you are grateful for at that moment, then stop and send that gratitude into the universe or direct it to the people you’re grateful for. Now, And, think about something that could have gone differently, and maybe even what you might have done to change the outcome for the positive. Write it down, and send that intention out into the world. Finally, breathe in all of the gratitude that your friends, loved ones, teachers and even people you may not know are undoubtedly sending you. Then, breathe out and release any negativity or resentment you’re clinging to from the day, and extinguish the candle as you let it all go.
In yoga, we teach about about acceptance and appreciation of exactly where you are at this moment in time with regards to your practice. So, cut yourself a break in your next class and be appreciative of how far you’ve come. When you’re in final resting pose, or in your final seated position with your hands in Namaste, send out gratitude to your teacher and to your fellow students. And, receive the same gratitude for yourself.
I regularly think about the candle in the window that I came home to, lighting my path back to a spirit of conscious grace. And, I am thankful for that reminder, for all that I am and the abundance in my life.
What are you grateful for today?
-Your Charmed Yogi