Friday, August 5, 2011


How do we cultivate gratitude in the spectrum of our experiences?

As human beings we are often bombarded with such a wide array of changes. Some we effortlessly rejoice in. Others trouble our hearts and minds, testing our eagerness to feel, be vulnerable, and let go. We've all experienced these. They arrive on our doorsteps dressed in many guises, at multiple points in our lives. Yet it is always what we choose to do with these difficult experiences that make the difference. Can we greet every moment, understand them, let them go and... be grateful for them?

I suffered a back injury when I was thirteen, causing a major change in physical capability, and it sparked a journey I could never have anticipated. The best way to keep my pain under control is through physical activity, which is how I tumbled half-consciously into yoga's multifaceted lap. But as I continued my blossoming yoga practice, I discovered something absolutely amazing. While it was chronic, my pain was never the same moment to moment. I realized I could actually cultivate awareness in my own body to better understand it, and myself.

Pain has a funny way of making you hyper-aware of the moment. It's the vivid flash of light that catches our attention. After several years of having to pay attention to what my body is feeling, and understanding the subtle differences, I've begun to recognize what my core feels. Through all of this, I have a more intimate relationship with this delightful, flawed, perfect, intricate vehicle that I am in constant communion with.

This physical experience became a beautiful metaphor and lesson for the mosaic of sensations in my life. If it's possible to feel gratitude for the reality of an injury, and the reality of my body as it is... there are so many possibilities! And it all starts on the mat, with you, with your body, your heart, your beautiful self. In practice, during moments of intensity, I focus on finding a calm attention. My body courageously and humbly builds its strength, limbs shaking, sweat tumbling down my skin like a river, muscles burning. Practicing along side, I cannot help but thank my form, and what brought me to this point, with an honest grace that I'm only beginning to discover.

How do you cultivate gratitude on and off your mat? Have you ever found gratitude in unexpected places? Let us know on our Facebook page!