Gratitude for All Seasons

grayscale photography of woman kneeling on area rug
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Gratitude is the fusion of happiness and awe.

By cultivating authentic gratitude, we wake up to the beauty of each moment—whatever it contains. All experiences and emotions are greeted with an open heart and we become indestructible warriors of love.

I was just in the United States, visiting home for Thanksgiving—celebrating that holiday in the US the first time in a decade. The longer I live in rural Guatemala, the more I drift from the busy busy lifestyle I used to lead in the States—and the more intense the reverse culture shock is when I return for visits.

Mostly, I felt overwhelmed and had to work to stay grounded and present. At the same time, I was grateful to spend time with my cherished family and dear old friends.

By practicing gratitude on a regular basis, we can each cultivate and express the natural warmth and loving kindness that dwells within our heart—connecting more deeply with ourselves and others.

We can also shift to a higher level of consciousness that sees learning opportunities in all situations, realizing that our state of mind determines the state of our lives. Scientific studies show that having an attitude of gratitude enhances our physical and mental health.

Keep reading for 7 reminders to assist you on the path of gratitude.

 

Become an Indestructible Warrior of Love

The majority of my yoga classes take place on a wooden platform jutting out over the shoreline, with a majestic view of the lake and the three volcanoes along the southern shore. (Shout out to Hostel del Lago in San Marcos La Laguna!)

In just about every practice I’ve led this year, I’ve been including pranayama and sound healing before final relaxation. Asana (postures) are important, but there is a depth of inner peace and transformation that is reached when pranayama and chanting are incorporated in daily practice.

Sometimes, we’ll do the consonant or vowel sounds for the crown, heart, and root chakras, in different orders depending on the day. Or, I’ll lead the students through the seed mantras for all seven of the main chakra points.

I always encourage people to join in with their voice if they feel comfortable, or just to listen, because I can clearly remember feeling freaked out by Sanskrit chanting at age 21.

I also love playing with the warrior syllables from Tibetan Buddhism. My beloved friend and yoga teacher, Paola, introduced them to me some months back in a sauna ceremony. They are amazingly powerful and beneficial.

The five warrior syllables are AOmHungRam, and Dza. Each represents a quality of realization.

Seed syllables contain the essence of enlightenment. It is subtle, not grandiose, this uncovering of the thick multitude of layers of conditioning. Yet, it empowers us to connect more and more with our true nature—pure awareness.

Keep Reading

Remember This

Up before the sun, and now the sun has risen
I am rooted, grounded, walking the line between content, complacent
here
Living the dream, returning to the nightmare
Life is but a dream, the nightmare is the suffering and while so many are suffering no one can truly be free
Time marches on, flies, keeps on keeping on and time stands still, sits still, lays down, dies

I sit up straighter, breathe in because I’ve been holding my breath
Laughter is the best medicine
Meeting brothers and sisters on the path, mentors and friends
My feet hurt but I can still walk
My hips are creaky but I can still move as I please
My mind is sharp and I can still travel with grace

It’s good to go
It’s good to come back
It’s good to be
For so much I am grateful.

Farewell, Amigo

A friend died last Thursday.

He ended his own life. A friend I hadn’t seen in years, but a friend all the same. A teacher, a musician, a husband, a father. With a daughter close to the same age as my own: five. He was forty years old.

I received the sad news one morning last week. In a message from a mutual friend. It was the first thing that entered my mind that day, this tragic news, and at first it didn’t compute.

He took his life. He is the first friend I’ve known who has committed suicide. It doesn’t seem real, that this person who was so alive and intelligent and complicated and hilarious and all the other things he was, to be gone just like that. It almost doesn’t seem real because there is no mention of it on social media amidst any of our many mutual friends. We are respecting his family’s wishes. But it is true, damn it.

red rain flower

I wrote his wife, now widow, who is my friend too. Even though there are no words, I wrote her. I’m thinking of her and him and their daughter and sending them love and metta.

I cannot imagine what she is going through. Even though I’ve read books written by widows about the experience of living through and beyond their beloved’s death, whether sudden or prolonged, I simply cannot fathom the grief and pain.

The other night, my friend appeared in my dream. As we were embracing in a big bear hug, I broke down in sobs. But I felt comforted by him, not sad about his death. In the dream, he was not dead. I was crying about something else, and he was consoling me. Only today as I was walking to yoga did I realize, on some level, the dream level, that that was our goodbye.

Adios, dear friend. Thank you. We will miss you. May you be free.