Using Mindfulness to Stay with Gratitude

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As we move through this weekend of gratitude, I have been thinking a lot about what I am grateful for.

Living at the foot of the mountains, having the ability to breathe in clean, fresh air every day and being surrounded by magical forests and rivers are some of the first that come to mind.

I have also been thinking a lot about how grateful I am that we have had the freedom to gather at Shala. How lucky we are that we have been able to continue to hold space for our community, to have the gift of seeing the smiles on our students’ faces as they walk through the door and feel the lightness emanating from them when they walk back out into the world. We really are so blessed.

Sometimes the heaviness of all that is going on in the world can weigh us down and we may even feel guilt for all of the abundance and freedom we have in our utopic little mountain town. However, guilt can be a very unproductive emotion and I believe that if we stay with gratitude in our hearts, the rest of the world can benefit. By allowing gratitude to lighten our spirits, we can raise the collective vibration for everyone else.

These times are hard for all of us, even if we really are so blessed comparatively; we are all still challenged in our own way. While contrast is important for perspective, it is also important to honour our own experiences so we can find ways to move through the darkness and back to the light.

My life is far from perfect…I have my own peaks and valleys that I navigate and the chaos of trying to run the studio with two very small children can be quite overwhelming. However, I do my best to find my way through by inhaling the small, perfect moments and breathing in their sweet goodness.

Smelling the skin of my daughter’s cheek…looking deeply into my son’s eyes and seeing the beauty of his spirit …feeling cold, clear river water splashing against my face…smelling the forest leaves as they decompose…hearing the gallop of my dog’s feet as she runs beside me and feeling the beat of my husband’s heart during an embrace are all experiences that bring me back to the present moment.

Finding moments in your day, every day, to be mindful and see all of the abundance you do have in your life can help you through your darkest hours.

I have also started taking a few minutes every day, as part of my routine, to be with the river, do some pranayama, connect with Spirit and reflect on what I am grateful for. Those moments are the ones that truly save me. Those are the moments that bring my feet back on the ground after a sleepless night or a particularly chaotic or stressful morning. Those are the moments that carry me through a series of tough days or even weeks and allow me to reach the other side. Those few minutes I carve out every single day to connect with my breath and connect with Spirit is probably one of the most important things that I do. When I take those few moments to be in the present moment and give thanks, I realize my life actually is perfect just as it is.

I welcome you to think about how you can find just a few minutes every day to be mindful and find gratitude. How can you live with all of your senses? How can you use sight, sound, smell, taste and touch to bring you back into this present moment? How can you come back to your breath and allow it to anchor you through your darkest moments?

We may feel that we have to be on our mat to do these kinds of things, but the real work is integrating these kinds of activities into your daily life. They don’t have to be in a yoga studio or at the river’s edge. They can be in your bed before you get out of bed in the morning or before you go to sleep. They can be in your head as you go for a walk or written down in a journal. It doesn’t really matter where or for how long as you find a way to do it.

I invite you to take a moment today and think about all of the abundance you do have in your life. What are the precious moments and how can you breathe them in even more deeply? By being mindful and living with gratitude in our hearts we can truly raise the collective vibration and contribute to making the world a better place.