With the proliferation of social media, November has become a month where we focus on gratitude. A month once associated with family dinners, pumpkin pie and a moment to bow our heads and speak aloud our thanks, it is now a time to take note and list 30 things (one for each day of the month) that fill our hearts with gratitude. Perhaps you have seen this on your News Feed on Facebook or perhaps a friend has shared this with you in a personal moment.
It is a good practice – being grateful – this noting the things, that we sometimes overlook; that bring us joy, comfort, growth, peace.
For the month of November, I made a decision to bring aspects of gratitude into each yoga class I lead. There are so many aspects of gratitude that I feel that this is something that our yoga class can go a little deeper into connecting with it.
As I was jotting down notes about gratitude to share at the beginning of the class. I started to think about how some people are uncomfortable with the idea of being thanked or even uncomfortable for being thankful for things in their own life. It is as if they are certain that if they acknowledge something that is important to them or sacred, that some dark entity will swoop down and snatch it away from them. The things that they love must be kept secret, hidden away, acknowledge only in a fleeting thought or whisper. Don’t acknowledge the value of it or someone may steal it.
Where we learn this fear I will never know.
But I too have had this horrifying thought more than once in my own life.
And I realized something as I was doing this exercise.
In order to fully immerse ourselves in the practice of gratitude, we must learn to be comfortable in our skin. Our practice of gratitude should not necessarily start on some outside notion, some homage to the things we are expected to be grateful for (family, job security, homes, cars, love).
In order for us to connect with gratitude it must start in our own skin: in this body that we drive; in these limbs that we flail; in these hands with which we create; in these feet and legs that carry us through a sometimes hostile world; in these lips, tongue and mouth that speak our truth; in this heart that beats and holds more love than we ever knew existed.
Our gratitude needs to start in our bodies; in our “home.” The place that houses our spirit. We need to start with being grateful for everything about our body that disturbs us or makes us uncomfortable. Dare I even say, “ungrateful?”
We need to bow and have gratitude for our feet that hurt sometimes, our curvy thighs, our skinny necks, our aging skin, our blemishes, our graying or fraying hair, our weakness, our strength, our undeniable beauty, our wisdom, our belly that fills with laughter, our hands that hold and heal and that face that meets us each morning in the mirror.
Yes, that face. That beautiful face that will smile back, if you only smile first.
When we recognize that our bounty lies in our being, we can work from that root and extend our gratitude outward to the world around us. One of the hardest things we can do is have gratitude for our physical selves because we are told constantly that our physical selves are not good enough. How can we love something that we are conditioned to hate? How can we truly have gratitude for something that we are told is less than because it is growing older, it is too thin, too thick, too something.
You are good enough. You are more than good enough.
You, my beautiful friend, are SO ENOUGH that your mind would blow wide open if you could wrap yourself around the truth of it and BE it.
I have found that Yoga takes us to this place. This place of truth and being enough.
When we are on our mat moving into a pose, we feel the strength in our body, we connect with our breath and we feel the bliss our body can know; we stop and listen and we can feel the love that radiates from us into the world.
There is a quiet knowing in this moment when our body and breath connect. This is the moment that makes us ripe for gratitude.
Life is one amazing gratitude project. We each could list hundreds of things that we hold sacred and we know we are blessed to have in our lives. I don’t mean material things. I mean love. I mean children. I mean parents, friends, nature, stars, mountains, sunshine, a hand to hold, the moon on a cold winter’s night, the taste of an Asian Pear, our health, sweet memories, music, the hoot of an owl when we are dozing in the early morning hours, wind chimes and our breath each morning when we awake.
Let’s start at square one. Let us embrace the fact that we are enough, today, right now, this moment. Let us remind ourselves of the beauty and value we bring into the world. And let’s take a moment and have gratitude for that – that beautiful person that you are and how Mother Earth is grateful to the Universe for sending you here.
November Gratitude Project
Day 1 – 8: My body, my breath, my mind, my spirit, my heart, my beauty, my wisdom – MYSELF
Be the Gratitude that you wish to see in the world. Let your authentic beauty touch those around you. Be thankful for your presence in the world and shine bright. Shine so bright that the world needs shades.