I feel like sharing my joy, it’s that simple. Yesterday I went out on a boat with my family. First I saw a large doe in Cates Park. Cates Park was PACKED and yet there she was, eating roadside grass, blending into the forest. Second, we went out on the water. It was amazing out; the sun was shining, the water was calm, relatively warm and clean and I was with my family including my in-laws and my niece, my hubby and beautiful daughter. Lastly, we went to these breathtaking falls that would only be boat access. I felt stunned that I had lived her my whole life and had never seen them or if I had in my youth (because I was visiting my old stomping grounds) I didn’t appreciate them.
That’s another thing that a daily practice has gifted me, appreciation. I appreciate much more now that my mind is more clear. It is difficult to appreciate things when your mind is full. The mind gets full of many things, most of them unnecessary. I read once that 95% of what we think of on any given day is a repeated thought and that only 5% is new information. That is incredible! Can you imagine the space you would have in your mind if you let go of anything that you had already considered and didn’t need to think about again? I’m not talking about the things that need to be repeated, I’m talking about things that we obsess over. We all do it and its making us crazy.
With my practice I have been able to get quieter in my mind. This peace has cultivated space for me to come appreciate things more easily. It’s difficult to appreciate when we are feeling overwhelmed or not appreciated ourselves and I know as a new momma I have definitely suffered both. I can also say that on the days that I don’t do asana and am meditating, I miss the asana. I hear this time and time again from students. Once you really get devoted to the mat, its hard to get off it.
How do we cultivate appreciation and gratitude? I think there are a few different ways. You can try clearing the mind with a yoga practice, a meditation practice, fitness when done consciously can really clear the mind. Gratitude journals are useful (I know some of you think CHEESY but they are), especially if you aren’t feeling so grateful. We can always start with the basics to be grateful for and them move up the hierarchy of needs. I was once reminded by a teacher that yoga is a privilege, that has always stuck with me. Not everyone gets to do yoga, lots of people would like to do yoga but can’t, lots of people need yoga and don’t.
One of the most profound ways to cultivate gratitude and appreciation is to give back. I often find when I’m stuck I do the opposite. For example, if I’m angry at someone, I meditate on filling them with my love. This is very difficult when you are very angry but it does work, you begin to transform your own feelings and we all know the only person the anger is hurting is you. When you are giving and being in service, this cultivates deep appreciation and gratitude. Service is the ultimate, but that is a whole other page in this story…