How many of you roll your eyes when the host of your thanksgiving gathering makes everyone go around the table saying out loud what you are thankful for? Or perhaps you are the guilty host/hostess that commits this infamous act of putting everyone on the spot. There is a reason why people feel the need to do this: it’s because saying “thank you” out loud is powerful. Not thinking it, not pretending you’re saying it silently in church, at grace before dinner, or before you fall asleep the night before Thanksgiving. Saying “thank you” when you’re supposed to is easy. When things are going well or as planned. Thank you for my health, my family, friends, my good fortune. But how bout when things aren’t so great? Or how bout the small, seemingly insignificant things?
I work with sick people every day, providing them physical therapy in their homes. Many I encounter do not have their health to say thank you for. Many do not have family or friends to be grateful for. They are in pain, whether physical, emotional, financial. Pain is certainly not something one would normally be grateful for. One woman in particular had a tumor removed from her spine, which was causing severe pain before it was diagnosed. “Thank God I had pain, or else they never would have found the tumor, and I would not be alive right now,” she told me. When I ask about her pain level at the beginning of each visit, she says that while it is pretty severe, it is a daily reminder that she is alive. Wow.
I’m not saying to proclaim false gratitude for things that you are not truly grateful for. That would be counter intuitive. The hard stuff is hard, and it’s ok to be pissed off about it. But try digging a little deeper. There is always something we are overlooking that can serve as our target for gratitude. (As usual, I am also talking to myself when I write this). As I sit here now, I feel the sensation of the clothes on my skin, the smell in the air, the sound of my breath. Just that alone is packed with things to say thank you for! I have gratitude that my senses are intact, that I have clothes to wear, that I know how to (or at least try to) sit still and absorb the present moment. THANK YOU! Driving to work this morning, the lights turned red when they were supposed to, and green when they were supposed to, allowing us to safely get to our destinations. THANK YOU! Or how bout that Thanksgiving feast we'll all consume…the ingredients were on the shelves in the store this week. THANK YOU! Consider that the universe is divinely operating…without any human effort, without batteries, new shoes, an Ipad, a job or a yoga class. The sun rose this morning. THANK YOU!
See, the little things ARE the big things. And when we recognize that, it’s always easier to feel gratitude. FEEL gratitude. Put that into your poses this Thanksgiving. Let your backbends come from your heart center. Let your movements be guided by breath which you give thanks for. Let your practice be nothing but a physical expression of prayer. Call to mind your un-obvious target of gratitude, and say it out loud. Volunteer to share it at your Thanksgiving gathering. I bet it makes it that much more meaningful. Namaste. <3