A month of Gratitude...

A Month of Gratitude Yogis...

What would a month of gratitude look like? What would it feel like to self correct, and shift your energy every time you went down the dark rabbit hole of what people are not doing for you, and what you don’t have...  One teacher I used to take class with would say "Gratitude is like a muscle, if you don't exercise it, you lose it..." As we move into November and we make plans to be with family and friends - this is definitely the intention we set as we gather together. That we are willing to travel near, and far and take time off from work for the people we love; and the opportunity to just say thank you, for being you. Well we hope it plays out that way - unfortunately we have old patterning, and unresolved baggage that can get in the way of this time we get to spend together. I've even heard students saying they are dedicating their holiday time off to be with family, while simultaneously dreading it and not sure how they will survive... How can we change this pattern? Being with family isn't like being on a island with no food or water. But sometimes it may feel like a spiritual desert if we don't set boundaries, or have different political views... I want to set the tone for this holiday, to support you in letting go of your unreasonable expectations. Think of it as a challenge, or an attitude adjustment - that supports you in holding gratitude for the people in your life. I also want you to not only give thanks for all of the good we have experienced, I also want you to give thanks for all of the heartache too. The painful moments that brought you to this point are why you are the strong, capable, dynamic being that is you!

 

This sounds so easy but it's actually challenging when you put it to practice - this is my practice, and right now it's being put to the test... Yes you may think from my handstand videos, and my competition days that it's easy for me to have gratitude, because of course my life is perfect. Hmmm - let's get real! No one has a perfect life - and everyone is going to suffer in one way or another. It's how we manage our suffering, and the tools we have to navigate the rough, and tough times that will help you. Some of you may know that I'm recently divorced... Yes, I was married for my entire adult life - four years with my partner, then married for sixteen. I'm not going to count the last year even though the divorce was just finalized a few weeks ago. That year didn't represent marriage - it represented taking a marriage apart. A year is not long in comparison to how long we were together - and I'm sure we will both be experiencing revelations from the unpacking of that union for years to come.

Why am I sharing this with you? This time last year was my first Thanksgiving without my partner of twenty year. I had my kids, but was in no place to retreat to my parents and hide under the covers until Christmas came along. I had responsibilities to my community, and to myself, so I had to ride it out - and that's what I did. I did my practice, and focused on creating a space for my children where they would feel good. I set intentions, and held class and space for others to do the same. I found gratitude while my heart broke for my children, myself, and my students... I found gratitude in the friends who stood by my side - the friends who showed up at my house with a Thanksgiving feast. My home felt like a home, a place where we would still hold space for friends, rituals,and celebrations. My gratitude list was long - but I could see where just filing days before the holiday it could have gone the other way...

This is the challenge of evolution - Ana Forrest says; Evolve or Die... I think when we focus on what we don't have it dims the spark inside... I think this attitude causes us to be past oriented or motivated by fear, superficial desire, and sometimes pain. What does evolution centered around gratitude look like? And how do our relationships, and work feel when we come from this intention? How can we stay with our intention, and not get derailed by our differences or defences? How can we stay in this place of gratitude for each other? This may be your first Thanksgiving in a new place, or with a new circumstance. I found one answer to this ritual quandary - and it was acceptance... In the gift of acceptance we can meet people where they are - not where we wish, or think they should be. By accepting my circumstances I was liberated to begin the journey of moving on. It's through this acceptance that we feel release, and that we no longer try to make someone who they are not - but simply appreciate what we get to learn from our adversity. Besides this holiday isn't about me - and the sooner we make our time together less self serving and more about the collective, the more fulfilled we will be with the time we get to spend together.

Here’s the practice, I want you to make a gratitude list - maybe it’s just one thing that stands out, or multiple. Please make a category of what you are grateful for outside yourself, then make one that’s personal. Here are the categories of self so you are able to simplify it and it’s more tangible. I’m grateful for my body______ fill in the blank; I’m grateful for my heart/emotions/spirit ______, and I’m grateful for my mind ______. This will center you in a space of love and acceptance, allowing you to sit in all of the things you enjoy about being you. If you find yourself running your rackets about your kids, parents, uncle, or aunt, spouse or ex-spouse. Just stop!! Think about something you are grateful for, or how the experience of being challenged by them is maybe just what you need. The fact is they chose to make the effort and show up - and showing up is a high form of love in my opinion. My goal for all of us is to continue this practice of gratitude beyond the month of November, and see what manifests in 2018 - let's show up for each other, and see what we create when we no longer evoke the negative, we evoke a bit of gratitude, and thankfulness for all we have, and that we get to share it with each other...


Love & Blessings,

Emily Longfellow