By Mary Boutieller
“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This year is slowly coming to an end, and it has been filled with grief and gratitude, joy and sorrow, the challenges of life lived and lessons learned and habits repeated and released. Always, these last months of the year cause me to pause and reflect on where I am and what I have learned. And even if you live in one of the warmer climates like I do, there is an innate slowing down, an inward pulling as if we should hibernate into the mind for awhile and let the body rest. If only we would tap into our primal natures and allow ourselves the sweet release of busyness—taking in nourishing foods, good company, cooler days and quiet contemplation, we could foster healing in so many ways.
This time also reminds me to find gratitude in my life. Even in the midst of pain and loss, there is always something we can be grateful for in our lives. Just try closing your eyes and think of one thing for which you are grateful. Now notice how that simple exercise makes you feel! Better yet, get out pen and paper and write down 10 things in your life that spark joy, bring contentment or make you smile. Many of us live such lives of privilege—of grace and plenty. How fortunate I am, here in this present moment, taking it all in and acknowledging it for the gift it is.
You see, that part—the acknowledgment part—is important. It’s really important because we can forget how darn lucky we are right here and right now. We can take for granted that the sun has come up once again, that the sky is so often blue, that a friend has reached out with love, that we can walk or talk or be in this world at all. We can forget to look within at all of the riches and knowledge and wisdom we’ve gained, at how the body responds to kindness, at the joy of simple pleasures and sweet nothings.
Imagine waking up each morning and acknowledging our own good fortune—a bed to sleep in, a roof over our heads, breakfast or coffee or clean water. You see, there is SO much to be grateful for in our lives.
Denis Waitley said, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
Perfect I am not, and sometimes I get frustrated with the itty-bitty irritations of life. Needless to say, I don’t always live every moment in gracious repose. But more often than not, I catch myself and regain perspective. How we feel about our lives depends so much on how we view ourselves and respond to events. For example, the other day a wasp stung me. After a few expletives escaped my mouth (whoops!), I thought, “Well, at least this will give my immune system a boost!” Then I thought how funny it was that I was able to put a positive spin on this painful little event!
Yet I know that this example is a small one. Some of you are struggling with disease or loss unimaginable, and finding the silver lining can seem insurmountable. So maybe we start by taking a deep breath…and then another.
We can always come back to the breath.
Then acknowledge your own precious worthiness—your own right to grace and joy and understanding. Embrace your journey and marvel at its twists and turns instead of getting consumed by it. See the forest through the trees of life and realize that it’s not over till it’s over, remembering that the clearing is just ahead.
WE HAVE SO MUCH TO BE GRATEFUL FOR.
Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken reminds me that we always have a choice—which path to take or which view we will aspire to in this one precious life we’ve been given. So we walk the path, pause, take another look, and maybe choose a road “less traveled by.”
I know that sometimes it’s all we can do just to take that deep breath; sometimes it’s a deep breath and a different choice; sometimes it’s turning up the music and doing a little dance, because nothing else really makes sense!
In this season of giving, forgiving and drawing inward, may the choices you make come easily. May you find what makes your heart truly happy. May you let go of the ancestral mantras that no longer serve your highest and best good, and may you truly acknowledge your own precious worthiness—just for being you.
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.