Human beings seem hard-wired to notice what goes wrong more often than what goes right, with a strong inclination for the negative rather than the positive. Time to wake up to the following fact: every time we limit our attention to how life goes south, we deny ourselves the variety of gifts we are receiving. Even in the midst of a crappy day, we are receiving something other than a pile of…..well…..crap!
Try this for a change. Imagine you are stuck in a massive traffic under a pouring rain, trying to get wherever it is you are going to. Your current situation is clearly making you late and irritable. Can you practice being thankful anyhow? ..for what? well for starters, the fact that you actually have means of transportation that will eventually get you to destination, unlike the poor woman soaked wet, standing a few feet away from you, trying to cross the street to find shelter under an awning. For the fact that there is someone in your life who cares enough to want to be meeting with you and will still love you even if you show up late because of the silly traffic, maybe you can feel grateful because you own a phone via which you can call that same person to let them know you are on your way…It doesn’t stop here. Can you always be aware that the cookies you are eating to distract yourself and numb your frustration, have left the supermarket shelves and are now in your hands thanks to a whole chain of individuals who worked really hard to make sure the pack would get to you?
In other words, are you able to recognize there is a level of well being and community cooperation and loads of positivity that is supporting you even in the midst of your unpleasant day?
Looking at things from this perspective is not going to erase your bad mood, or get you miraculously to your appointment on time, it is just going to allow you to train your mind into always seeing the true situation in your life. Being late because of traffic is a natural result of an unfortunate occurrence but it is not your true situation. Your true situation in this case, is that you are lucky enough to own a car.
The true practice of gratitude is trying to see things as they are, not as your mind makes them to be. And feeling grateful even in the worst situations allows you to spontaneously feel the presence of grace and constantly feel supported in countless ways. This is the highest wisdom of yoga, realizing the truth of how connected we are and how fortunate we are to be part of that connection.
Best platform to practice the above principles is once again your mat. When moving within a sequence, can you remind yourself that through these shapes you invite your body to come into, you are actually expressing a form of gratitude …for being here, for being healthy, for having this body, for having a breath to guide you in an out of a pose and link you back to the source..
Can you remain grateful even as you hear your hips screaming with discomfort.
When your asana practice is filled with gratitude for all that arises, the strong arms as well as the tight hamstrings, the ecstatic as well as the horrific…chances are you are someone who will walk through life always expressing gratitude for the good, the bad and the ugly…and that’s a beautiful practice to have in a world where everyone and everything is taken for granted.
As Buddha himself would say: “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”