I have been thinking a lot about the concept of gratitude. I think that many of us believe that the state of gratitude involves feeling happy all the time. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe it is possible to practice gratitude while still slipping into frustration, sadness, and overstimulation. Gratitude is really at the center of who we are. It doesn’t mean you never take things, animals, or people for granted. It means that you have an awareness that you are doing it and that you are making an effort to pay attention.
Last week, my beloved Luna died. She came into my life almost 15 years ago as a tiny puppy and we were inseperable ever since. She was my best friend. The gratitude and the grief have been intertwined. I am incredibly grateful for all of the wonderful times we had together, her companionship, the things she taught me about patience and loyalty, and yes, even the fact that she passed away quietly and gently in the arms of my husband, Steven, outside in our yard. The expereince of gratitude comes with a price of sorts.
Gratitude means opening ourselves up to the experiences of love, loss, pleasure, pain, exileration, and even boredom. Gratitude is about living life to the fullest and experiencing the full spectrum of emotions. Buddist philosophy teaches the importance of being able to “sit” with uncomfortable feelings without judgement and attempts to change or soothe. Gratitude is not just the experience of joy, but the all-encompassing experience of life.
I personally have much to be grateful for. I sincerely hope that you have a chance to truly expereince gratitude not just now, not just on Thanksgiving, be as often as possible inside and out of the yoga studio.
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
’Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
From Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem In Memoriam: 27, 1850.