Originally Thanksgiving was the time to give thanks for the bounty of the harvest. As the work of bringing in the crops was done, time was spent to celebrate the blessings of food, family, and the community. These days, most of us are not harvesting our food, yet North Americans still celebrate this holiday, and it is at least one day a year in which we give thanks.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali stated that practicing santosha (contentment or appreciation of what is) will lead to unexcelled joy. I am definitely all about something that is going to bring joy into my life! Practicing appreciation or gratitude is a powerful way to help lift us out of negativity, and acknowledge our interconnection with all things that sustain us. There are many simple ways to include an attitude of gratitude into your day. You can spend a few moments upon waking or before sleeping honoring those people and things for which you are grateful. You can offer gratitude before a meal to all who contributed to bringing you that sustenance. You can use a moment in your day to turn a gripe into a gratefulness (instead of spending the time being frustrated with the broken-down bus going up the mountain, be grateful that your vehicle is working, that you are financially able to have your own vehicle, that you have the moment to enjoy the beauty of this part of Costa Rica, etc.).
In our yoga classes, we bring gratitude in each day with the word “namaste”, an expression of recognition and gratefulness for the divine light in ourselves and others. We say this typically with our hands held in Anjuli mudra, or prayer position. Every time I bring my hands together into this place, it helps me to come back to this moment and the presence of grace in my life. This month, let your practice include at least one moment of gratitude each day, and see if this affirming and honoring of what is can lift your heart into more joy.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.