I took some time off in August, and went to see my goddaughter in Cincinnati (she's 15 now and A-mazing!) and then on to Cape Cod to visit friends. It was lovely to have time off and I imagined arriving back in Oakland, rested and tan and ready to jump back into life. Instead, I got sick a couple days before I left the Cape. So, with a full-blown head cold I boarded a plane and flew back to the left coast. I arrived home blowing my nose (a lot!) with jet lag and zero energy. The following week I taught, tried to rest and streamed Netflix. I also practiced restorative yoga which mostly turned into a nice afternoon nap. When people asked about my vacation, I heard myself waxing negative, whining a bit and generally sounding victim-y. After about a week, I was not only still sick but sick of hearing my own whiney voice.
I knew I needed a BIG shift. I started to really pay attention to my words, and noticed how getting sick had soured my perception of my time off. I decided to start cultivating a little gratitude at the beginning of my daily practice. Of course, I'd read a bunch of articles in the past on social media that talk about gratitude practice, and I'd made little lists in my head and on paper of things I was grateful for, but this called for something more specific and more formal. I'm still amazed at how quickly my mood began to improve and my perceptions began to shift. So I thought I'd share my method...just in case you might need a bit of a shift yourself.
Without gratitude, I find that I'm always just a little sour inside. Actively cultivating gratitude at the beginning of practice feels sweet, and that sweetness infuses the practice and lingers thoughout the day.
CONTEMPLATE THESE TRUTHS before your asana or meditation practice:
1. You are alive - You happened! (and you woke up this morning)
2. Your life circumstances are such, that you have the time to practice (or take class) and to be exposed to the practice and spiritual teachers who motivate and inspire.
3. No matter how sore, tired or unwell you might feel on a given day, what good fortune that you have the tools to improve your condition and your life.
4. Reflect on your exceptional circumstances.
5. Remember, life is a gift.
Begin your practice.