What Does Gratitude Feel Like?
As I was driving down to the studio today, I was thinking about the feeling of gratitude. After all, it was Thanksgiving Day. That said, these holidays often feel so forced and contrived. Today, you should feel gratitude. What about tomorrow? I guess, however, that it got me to think in a new way about a concept that comes up pretty regularly in my line of work. I hadn’t really worked it out in my head but I found myself talking about it in class and it was starting to make sense. I often hear in yoga classes; fill yourself with a sense of gratitude for all that you have. Honestly, it is not easy for me to connect or imagine the feeling of gratitude yet in class, I started to imagine what it felt like physically. Maybe this is just because I tend to be a very physical person, but this notion was powerful and wonderful. What would the physical sensation of gratitude feel like? Well, I think it would feel light, warm, open, expansive, responsive, and alive. That all sounds good doesn’t it? Then I started to think/talk about what the absence of that would feel like; heavy, cold, contracting, and dead. Now, the mind often leads the body but I think the body can also lead the mind. Imagining and eliciting this feeling of gratitude would seem to lead to a more open, energized interaction with the world.
Gratitude as a Source of Energy
Gratitude is sustainable. The opposite of gratitude is draining. Gratitude is warm and therefore attracts attention. The absence of gratitude would then repel. Now I have been involved in many causes in my life and it is easy to get angry, resentful, depressed, and frustrated with the status quo. The problem with that is, if your goal is to make people see your point of view, there needs to be an element that attracts them. I always joke that no one wants to be like you if you are an angry,judgmental vegan for example. Who would want to emulate that? But, if you see someone who is filled with joy, light, health, and yes, a sense of humor, that can be pretty compelling.
Shining Your Light
Recently, a lovely woman named Jemilah took the time to write a wonderful, heartfelt, and thorough review on Yelp about O2. I stopped her in class the other day to thank her and what she said really made me stop in my tracks. She said that what actually happened was she took a class at another studio and it was a terrible experience. She thought about writing a bad review for them but then realized that it would be much more productive to tell us, at O2, what we were doing right. In a sense, rather than fueling negative energy, she decided to shine her light and gratitude over at us. And you know what, I totally basked in it. You see, talking trash about others really is not attractive but taking the time to tell someone what they are doing right and what you are grateful for really does warm things up. And, it is much more energizing.
I am embarrassed to say that I almost got into a fight with a nasty woman in the grocery store the other day. I know, I know, you can take the girl out of Jersey but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl. I won’t go into details because we all know how silly these things seem after the fact but, I will say this, I found myself shaking and exhausted after the encounter. In short it was incredibly draining, and, I felt ashamed of myself. Yuck. So, who is perfect? Not me for sure, but I will keep exploring this idea of the wonderful qualities of gratitude. I would have felt much better if I had turned my light towards someone for whom I was grateful rather than spending it inflicting damage on someone else and myself.
“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
― James Herriot