For this month’s blog post, I volunteered to write about gratitude since we celebrate Thanksgiving in November what better time to discuss feeling grateful. Then as I sat down to write this I asked myself “What were you thinking?!” This is really challenging for me because I struggle with gratitude. I truly have to dig deep to embody sincere thanks all the time because as a human being surrendering to the daily unexpected outcomes is hard.
The term gratitude is quite popular these days, one of many conveniently used buzz words in the age of trendy mindfulness. What does it really mean though? The definition of gratitude according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a feeling of appreciation or thanks. Don’t get me wrong I am very thankful for many things such as family, YOGA, pizza, the beach, and on and on. But how am I supposed to be grateful for my psoriasis, the election outcome, a flat tire, bad pizza (actually forget that one because even bad pizza is good pizza- pizza can’t be bad), war, disease, global warming…you get the idea. When my psoriasis flared up last July pretty severely for the first time in 5 years, I went to visit a very dear friend and healer. I told her everything was going great and I would wake up everyday in my beautiful apartment in the heart of Miami, healthy, happy and off to spend the day teaching yoga. Gratitude was effortless. And then all of sudden everything changed because of my skin, from the embarrassment of my appearance to the physical and emotional discomfort. I am a yoga teacher, my body is my office, how am I supposed to show up when I look and feel like crap? I totally lost any thankfulness or appreciation for anything. After telling this to her, she said TIKI: gratitude is meant to be practiced ALL THE TIME, NOT JUST WHEN IT’S CONVENIENT.
Mindfulness practices are very popular right now and being aware is a beautiful thing. However awareness is not enough, because with it comes the responsibility of compassion. A serial killer can be mindful but I’m not so sure that person has any compassion. Everyone is experiencing obstacles, challenges, daily unexpectedness. In order for us to evolve we have to practice compassion for one another. The statement that gratitude is meant to be practiced always, not just when things work out was a game changer for me and I started to be truly grateful for everything including my red pretty skin patches ? Not only did my flare up force me to take a step back and reevaluate myself – a little check in we all need every now and then, but it strengthened my compassion for others 10 fold.
I saw the blessing in the uncomfortable experience and am so thankful for it. It’s not easy and here are a few simple things you can do to get in a good habit of gratitude:
1- Write down 3 things you are grateful for right before you go to sleep and again when you wake up. Keep that list with you and refer to it when you lose the thankful feeling.
2- Yoga. It is so important to have a healthy and strong connection to your body.
3- Service. Volunteer at a local organization or cause. Helping others is a beautiful gratitude practice and our purpose.
A deep rooted gratitude for being will also enhance your trust in the process, because things may not always look like what you prayed for but you have to trust that your prayers are being answered. So I close with a bunch of yoga buzz words and phrases: BE GRATEFUL. PRACTICE COMPASSION. TRUST THE PROCESS.
– Tamara Kenigsberg
Tamarapart of our Hot Fusion Flow, 200H Teacher Training faculty. For more information about Tamara check out her Biography.
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