We laugh at me sometimes…I can be the Grumpy Yogini. I wish I could say I’m always nice and happy, but I have always been a grump in the morning. It’s just my nature…maybe. I do notice a shift away from grumpy during and after meditation. My morning meditation helps me transition from foggy, sleepy, grumpy to less grumpy…and sometimes even to elated! Meditation is like cleaning off your camera lens before you take a picture, the lens of your mind’s eye, clearing and adjusting, shifting perspective.
Another lens for shifting perspective is the gratitude lens. Gratitude helps me find contentment in the abundance of now. Oprah got me started keeping a gratitude journal. I’ve been journaling off and on for years but had never given my writing the specific focus of gratitude. My journal is a continuum of pain, hopes, fears, and dreams…all good processing, but I’m not sure I had ever focused on the essentials of life, the true abundance that I live in now. Very slowly, I started awakening to the practice of gratitude. I know it sounds selfish to say I had to awaken to gratitude, but it’s the truth.
My basic needs in life have always been met: food, safety of shelter. I did lose my Dad, but I had a tremendous amount of love and support from family
and friends. I’m sure those who know me well would say I am spoiled rotten, and it’s true. My mother, dad and second dad, Bill have showered me with unconditional love and have given me opportunities and hand-me-downs way beyond a yoga teacher/musician’s income.
When most of our needs are met, maybe we become complacent. I had not really learned the practice of gratitude. I don’t think I’ve ever been ungrateful, but I’ve definitely been grumpy (and much worse) more often than I care to admit. With practice and time, my eyes began to zoom in to see all that is right here and now to be grateful for. When I am grateful, I shift away from the Grumpy Yogini and celebrate the abundance that I truly live in. I hope I’ve also gotten better at feeling and expressing gratitude.
Grumpy can be s-l-o-w to change. Repetition can serve to create new patterns, changes in our perspective, new neuropathways in our brains. Advertisements, politicians, political groups, propagandists and preachers have always used this repetition to sell us products, ideals, people, etc. Repeat, repeat, same songs, same commercials. If you never change the channel or clean the lens, you start believing what they tell or sell you. You start thinking you need a more luxurious car, more pills for just about anything that ails you, youth creams, youth potions, youth botulism (botox), that you have not enough hair, too much hair…geez! It’s never-ending. Yikes, did you feel the shift? Talking about commercials is making me grumpy and angry, as they tap into our fears.
We can consciously shift this grumpiness, this perspective, back to grateful. We can create a new pattern of behavior and a life of enough, a life of gratitude. So when a negative thought or behavior arises, I hit my internal pause button and try to choose more consciously what I put into my head, especially my own self talk. Yoga uses mantras —“mind tools” or repeated words or phrases — to harness thoughts and use the mind as a tool. So by repeating the affirmation “I am grateful” by itself or followed with something specific we are grateful for, we can reprogram our thoughts and shift out of one thought pattern and into whatever thought pattern we choose, because “I am strong.”
I am grateful for indoor plumbing.
Sometimes when we are sad, angry, or afraid, or we’ve been inundated with TV, social media, or ourselves telling us we don’t have enough and we are not enough, it’s hard to find something to be grateful for. That’s why I keep it simple and start with the essentials…
Can you imagine a day without breathing? If you aren’t breathing, you are not here. Walk yourself through a day without clean water and then repeat, “I am grateful for clean water.” Take time to stop and acknowledge the essential things in life that we often take for granted. There are many people — children, older adults, veterans, our neighbors and friends — without clean air, water, food, and shelter in this world.
Remember, this is a practice, and it will take time and repetition. Take the time to say or write the words I am grateful when you practice so this new impression of gratitude will start to fill up and smooth out the pathways of your mind!
Here’s my essential gratitude list:
I am grateful for the breath (inspiration, spirit) of God.
I am grateful for my health and the health of my family, friends, students, teachers, everyone!
I am grateful for the love and support of my best friend, my partner Allen, my family, friends, teachers, students, pets….and even of strangers.
I am grateful for safe water for drinking, cooking, washing, playing and more. Clean water is essential to life!
I am grateful for access to healthy food to nourish the cells in my body so I can feel my best. And I’m extra grateful when it is yummy food!
I am grateful for shelter and warm clothing/clean bedding, for comfort from the elements and a safe place to rest my head.
I am grateful I can see another’s fear and pain, and not take their hurtful comments/actions personally. (This one is always a work in progress….)
I am grateful for Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey Ice Cream. It doesn’t have to be all good-for-you stuff, does it?
I am grateful for work that sparks my heartbeat and inspires me to get out of bed each day.
I dream of an abundance of fresh air, water, food, health, support, shelter, compassion, and even a little ice cream or favorite yummy for all beings.
The list is really endless: Can you find something, even one thing, on this list to be grateful for? Indoor plumbing and a clean bathroom, clean floors, sunshine, rain, coffee, beer, chocolate, music, brilliant leaves, warm breeze, the smile of a passerby, a kind word…there is something to be grateful for in every moment!
The intent is for our lives to become a moving, living meditation of gratitude, aware as we move through our days, interacting with others and ourselves from a place of gratitude.
Living in Gratitude.
This is the month of Thanksgiving, ya know. What a great time to start to awaken to the practice of gratitude! Try it NOW!!! Give it a whirl!
Get a notebook or gratitude journal today! Keep it simple: start by jotting down a few things, say, three, that you are grateful for each day. Do this for the next seven days. Miss a day? So what…what are you grateful for now?
E-mail this blog to your friends or share on Facebook. Ask your friends what they are grateful for! Let’s spread more gratitude now!
Ask your family to read three things they are grateful for at the dinner table on Thanksgiving day!
I have been amazed how this simple, free practice can shift my not-so-positive thought patterns into workable, more positive, grateful thought patterns. It is the beginning to shifting perspective on everything.
Start by asking yourself right now, in this moment, “What can I be grateful for?” and post at least one thing below.
I am grateful you took the time to read this. Please share and spread gratitude this month and always!
Peace, Love and Gratitude,