Tonight I went to Maggie's class at Firehouse Yoga in Des Moines. She opened the class with a meditation on gratitude (from Yoga Journal). As we inhaled we were instructed to think of three things from today that we were grateful for. As we exhaled, we were to imagine ourselves being the cause of that gratitude for others. I liked how Maggie emphasized that it didn't have to be big; what mattered was that we were able to find something to be grateful for in any situation. I went with the first three things that came to me: the taste of my chai, the friendly smile of a stranger, and the sense of arrival when I got to the yoga studio.
Gratitude is something I've only recently begun to 'believe in.' It's a little talked-about feeling. I know you can feel happy or sad. But grateful? 'Grateful' hasn't ever been in my feelings-vocabulary. I spend far more time wanting than I do just being content. I thought maybe gratitude would come to me when I finally had everything I wanted.
So I was appreciative when Maggie said even when you are feeling anxious or frustrated, you can still always find even something miniscule to be grateful for, and start from there. During the poses, this practice became very helpful. This was my first experience of Firehouse's Level II Vinyasa class and it was a lot harder than I expected. I began to feel wary when I saw that I was the only one in long sleeves (and a scarf, and wool socks) and everyone else brought water bottles.
I almost felt like I'd never done yoga before. I thought I'd achieved some high level of yoga by studying in California (in my mind it's the new India when it comes to the study of yoga). But apparently, Iowans know how to do their vinyasa flows: not just a few here and there, but THREE after what seemed like every pose. I felt frustration and despair (I will NEVER be a yoga teacher if I can't do this stuff) but I stayed afloat by clinging to the bits of gratitude I could find (she's really allowing us to have a lot of freedom and yay! i'm sweating!).
I've been interested in gratitude since the Crib, because during the last savasana on the last day of the week, Arturo and Cheri asked us to feel grateful. And for some reason, I felt it so clearly that I thought, ok, I finally know what that is. But I haven't been able to get it back until now.
I don't have to have just spent a week in yoga bliss for gratitude to find me. In any moment there's always something that is nourishing us. Right now I'm enjoying the feel of a warm wool coat around my shoulders and the soft sound of my keys clicking in a silent dark room. My breathing is soft and relaxed. And that's enough for this moment.