Gratitude Connects Us

gratitude2Have you ever had an experience that made you think, “wow, humans are awesome…?!” This happened to me at the grocery store. I was completely blown away by a stranger’s kindness.

I had taken my son to buy some popsicles. I stood in line to pay and when my turn came up I realized I had forgotten my wallet. I turned to my little guy to explain that we would have to go back home and couldn’t get the popsicles right then. He expressed his dismay …

A young man working at the store overheard. He turned to us, and asked how much it was. Then he pulled out his wallet and offered to pay! I was taken aback by his generous offer. Young guy, part time job, I am sure he did not make a lot of money. Yet without hesitation he offered to help us out.

This simple gesture made my evening. I was so taken by his kind spirit. It was more than just gratitude for his offer to pay. It was an affirmation that I was somehow connected to this stranger and perhaps then to everyone.

Choose to be grateful

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

I love this because it says that we can choose to see miracles all the time.

In Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend. This is the season where we are told we should count our blessings. We should be grateful for what we have. I believe that gratitude is a choice. We can choose to focus on the things that are good and positive in our lives rather than the things that are not.

For example, in our yoga practice we can choose to dwell on the things that we can do in our physical asana practice and build from there rather than mourning what we can’t.

Gratitude makes you feel better

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” — Brother David Steindl-Rast

Acknowledging what you’re thankful for can lead to a happier, healthier life. For example, results from research studies suggest that focusing on blessings (e.g., making gratitude lists) can have both emotional and interpersonal benefits and improves overall well-being.

One study showed that even just thinking about giving has beneficial effects. College students who watched a movie about Mother Theresa caring for orphans, had a rise in a particular antibody. This suggests that the feeling of giving and receiving strengthens the immune system. How cool is that?!

Being thankful changes your world

Have you ever noticed that when you are thankful and focused on the positive, the number of good things that happen to you increases? That when you raise your vibration energetically (e.g., by practicing gratitude), other people and circumstances that are rocking that same vibe seem to find their way into your life?

A couple of months ago I decided to focus on my strength and fitness. I am incredibly thankful for my health and I really internalized this feeling as I set about looking for ways to improve my fitness.

Some nice things started to happen.

I crossed paths with Mike, a wonderful wellness coach who helped me put together an awesome fitness program. I connected with friends online who have similar goals and mindsets and we now have a supportive little group. A friend at work invited me to jog with her yesterday. It turned out to be my best run yet. My opportunities seem to expand the more I dwell on the positive things that come my way.

How can you practice gratitude in your yoga?

Use your practice to turn inward and feel what you are thankful for:

  • Take note of the good and appreciate what your body can do
  • Practice heart-opening poses (e.g., cobra, supported fish). It’s like saying “I am here and I am open to blessings”
  • Practice child’s pose – it has been called the “pose of gratitude.” It is a calming posture that encourages surrender to and gratitude for the present moment.
  • Include mantras, gathas or affirmations as part of your practice. A couple that I have been working with:
    ~ I am open to the abundance of the universe.
    ~ Right now, in this moment, I have enough.
  • Hold your poses gently and without struggle
  • At the end of your practice, take a few moments to mentally list five things that you are grateful for in your life. Send your thankfulness to these people and/or things.

Gratitude fosters real joy. It reminds us that we are all connected. I didn’t let the young man pay for our popsicles but I have not forgotten his kindness and it changed me for the better.

The word “Namaste” embodies deep gratitude and recognition. Thank you so much for being here each with me.

Namaste,

Charlotte

Photograph courtesy of Ramon Peco

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