You have an infinite capacity for gratitude

gratitude tattoo

gratitude by Fancy Hunt on Flickr

When I was little, I’d say my prayers before bed.  “Now I lay me down to sleep….” I’d ask God to bless and watch over my mom, dad, gradmas and grandpas, aunt and uncle, brother, dog, cat, friends, anyone I didn’t know and everyone I forgot to mention.

I believed that I had to squeeze it all in during that prayer or someone might be left unprotected. As  a child, I had no parameters for what I asked of God.  As I got older, ‘the list’ became more condensed as if there were only so much room to ask God for a favor.

I used to think about Gratitude kinda the same way, like I had to find only the most prolific or beautiful things to be grateful for.  As if there were somehow a limit on gratitude or that unpleasant experiences weren’t worth considering.

But, I’ve come to realize that just like our hearts have an infinite capacity for love, there’s no limit to how much you can express gratitude for, and nothing is too trivial.

You can be grateful for the big ones, the obvious ones like, “I’m grateful for my health, and the health of my family, and my job, and my home, etc.” and those are great.  But it’s also OK to express gratitude for the little things or oft forgotten things like toilet paper, clean water, green lights, toast, toothpaste, not stubbing your toe on the table again…

And, it’s particularly liberating to be grateful for the not-so-awesome things that happen in our lives like people who drive us crazy, traffic or pain.  

When you begin to find ways to be grateful for everything, you can begin to let go of assigning value judgements like good or bad and take the ‘me’ out of what happens.  It just happens.

How many things can you be grateful for today?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Fancy Hunt / Flickr)

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Thank you goes a long way

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A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way to lift the spirits of both the give and receiver of gratitude. Too often in our ego-driven “I” society, we’re focused on what WE can get, what’s owed to US, and even when we get it, extending a simple “Thank you” may seem like a herculean effort. And yet, we know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a ‘thank you’ and how great it feels when that gratitude is acknowledged.

Take time today to be thoughtful, and thank the people in your lives for what they bring; thank every person with whom you make contact; write a thank you letter to a soldier; and thank your personal divinity or god for every blessing.

Even silently express gratitude for the tough times for they open your eyes to all that you have.

Namaste and thank you for supporting my aspirations,

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Pinterest)

Gratitude turns what we have into ENOUGH

If you’re family is like mine, you may go around the table today and share something for which you are grateful. For me, I’m grateful for everyone seated at the table, especially my dad. Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you.

Namaste & Happy Thanksgiving.

– Your Charmed Yogi

The importance of friendship

Friendship..........

Most of us go through life not realizing just how much love and support we receive from our friends.  Friends are there for us when we don’t even want to be around ourselves. Friends help us see how courageous and talented we are, especially when we have a hard time seeing it.

When we go through life altering changes, our friends are there to help us get through the bad and cheer us on through the good.   “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  ~Albert Schweitzer

Take time today to tell your friends you love them and appreciate all that they’ve done to help you be who you are.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Selfishly be someone else’s miracle

My mom used to tell me that you may never know the impact you’ve had on others.  A smile to a stranger,a touch, or just listening to a friend in need may seem trivial young hands holding elderly handsto us, but at the moment it’s given to another, it could be quite grand.

In graduate school we dove into the topic of altruism.  Does it or doesn’t it actually exist?  Some theorists believe it doesn’t exist because the person performing the selfless act may still derive joy or satisfaction from the act of giving.

I recently came upon this argument again and started to think about whether or not I’ve ever truly been altruistic.

I thought about the times I’ve volunteered my time, or given money to charity, or helped out a friend in need.  And they all felt awesome. Dammit.

I thought about how I’ve rescued two (now three) dogs from shelters.  But in truth, I sought out these dogs for companionship.  Dammit again.  So then I thought, you know what?  Who the heck cares where the motivation comes from so long as you’re giving of yourself and receptive to love.

Selfishly give of yourself to others; be someone else’s miracle and enjoy the feeling of an open heart. Then you both feel awesome.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Photo credit: Woodland Care & Rehabilitation

Don’t bury your head in the dirt

dog yard statueIt’s only natural to want to shy away from conflict or avoid facing issues that cause emotional discomfort. However, facing your fears head on first thing in the morning may be exactly what you need to do to break the cycle of suffering.

In addition to my daily yoga (asana) and meditation practice, I recently added a ‘wake-up’ meditation and body scan. Several months ago, after I’d started my regular morning practice, I noticed that I still had some bouts of anxiety during the day that I couldn’t figure out. So, I began to practice awareness as soon as I awoke, and found that it was just the ticket for quelling anxious feelings I didn’t even realize I was harboring.

Stress and anxiety are both natural states, and part of being human, but there is a simple remedy to ensure you start your day in as relaxed a state as possible — by greeting you with gratitude.

Too often, we jump out of bed, head straight for the shower, turn on the television, or down a cup of coffee. Our body is in fight or flight mode and it hasn’t even had a chance to acclimate. No wonder, there’s so much tension in western society. Tomorrow morning, try something different. Set your alarm for about five minutes earlier than usual to allow yourself time to feel what it’s like to wake up, instead of feeling like you’re under attack.

Before you even open your eyes, just softly bring your awareness back to your environment. Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Reach your arms overhead for a nice stretch, and rub your hands together vigorously to make some heat before cupping them over your eyes. Then, just lie there and notice. Notice if you have any tension anywhere in the body. Notice if you feel dis-ease as soon as you come into the world, and welcome whatever sensations you experience. Say thank you to any physical or emotional feelings good or bad. This different type of awareness, one of gratitude, can quickly dissolve feelings of angst. Treat your morning wake up as gently as you would a long, restorative savasana, and you’ll eventually arise with calm.

Just yesterday, I was talking about this new practice to my mentor from teacher training, and she even suggested bringing your hand to that place on the body in which you’re feeling turbulence, and saying, “thank you.” I love this concept of truly connecting with the self through touch, presence and thankfulness.

In Buddhism, there are four central teachings known as the four noble truths. One of these is dukkha or suffering. The belief is that humans share a bond of suffering, and that living a life of dharma protects us from suffering. And, embracing suffering for the teacher that it is, with gratitude, is the first step toward peace.

We can’t all be boddhisattvas on day one, but when we begin to notice that we are experiencing dukkha at the hand of our own thoughts, and welcome all that is, we begin to live a life of presence — a life without suffering. So, don’t bury your head in the dirt to avoid pain, face it, embrace it and leave it.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi