I had the privilege to teach a yoga class to 5 of my best friends, whom have never been exposed to yoga, this past weekend. Needless to say, it was a challenge, but I will forever feel lucky and grateful to have had every one of them open to the idea of practicing yoga, hungover, on the beach with our butts in the air, during a hot summer day on a girls bachelorette party vacation. I was impressed and proud that throughout the chaos, drama, and constant laughter that I managed to center myself and all of my friends, or so I had thought. It wasn’t until one of my friends came to me in private and asked, “You know when you were talking about feeling grateful, what does that mean?”. I didn’t know how to answer. I felt bad that I didn’t do my job, getting her to that place during the practice.
The next day I sat by the beach, watching the ocean crash upon the shore, feeling the rough sand rub against my feet, and the warm breeze on my face. My heart was so full of love and gratitude, but I could not figure out how to put that into words. After an hour or so, it dawned on me, that I don’t think I can make anyone feel grateful. I believe that it is something that you have to explore and figure out. I can provide the space to let go and become vulnerable, but it is up to ourselves to feel how we feel, to find that space of gratitude, and what it means to you. It might feel different for everyone. Some might smile and laugh or maybe break down and cry, regardless the emotion, it is still a feeling worthy of discovery.
No one can transfer how they feel to another person and no teacher can download their information into someone, as of yet, but as yoga teachers, we can provide the environment that feels safe to explore those feelings and discover what it means to feel grateful.
5 ways I have learned how to feel grateful:
- Shift into a witnessing mode. Sit alone in silence and allow yourself to notice the beauty in your surroundings. Find the wonder and awe in the moment. Notice the vibrant colors, the slow movement of leaves and grass, the sound of birds talking. Find the amazement in everything without having to do anything.
- Connect with your heart. Practice a heart opening meditation. Sit alone in silence in a meditation position. Imagine your self as nothing but a light blue energy with no body. Imagine a beautiful rose where your heart is, representing perfect compassion and love. Focus on that heart as you imagine it slowly spinning in a clockwise direction. This mediation helps to move your energy from your head to your heart.
- Be thankful. Be thankful for the things in your life big or small. Sit alone and think of all the wonderful things that you are thankful for, making your way from the obvious to the not so obvious. Be thankful for a supportive partner, loving family, good paying job. Be thankful for the array of colors in the world that we are able to see or the fact that we have hot water on demand to fill our baths, just to drain it.
- Be humble. Allow yourself to be thankful without butts. Removing any type of expectation or restrictions from your head. If your heart is trying to be thankful for someone, but your head is telling you that they don’t deserve it, try to ignore those thoughts and reconnect with your heart. Tell yourself that everyone deserves love and acknowledgement, even yourself. Believe that they did the best they could and that their actions were as pure as they could make them.
- Love. Give your love away for free. Even to the people who have hurt you. Practice a loving meditation. Imagine the person in your mind that has hurt you and imagine a cloud of black smoke swirling inside them. With every inhale imagine that cloud getting smaller and smaller until it is a size of a pea. Imagine one last inhale sucking the negative energy out of them and into the air. Imagine a laser beam of love from your heart blasting the smoke into a million pieces into the universe. Imagine that person as happy and pure as they can be, without the negative energy inside them. Send them your love by imagining a white light coming from your heart to theirs.