Yoga and a Grateful Heart

31 October 2013

The most natural state of the human heart is that of gratitude. And a grateful, open heart receives everything that impacts it in life, moment by moment, just like the ocean receives raindrops. There’s never any rejection or coveting of any individual drop; just each drop, each part dissolving into the whole.

Similarly, our heart has the innate capacity to open to both suffering and joy with equal acceptance. In fact, this is how it functions best. The heart’s secret is that it wants to feel everything. In order to thrive, it wants to be fully alive in order to learn all that it can from the trials and celebrations of life, but our ego/self has other plans. It encourages and supports all that is agreeable to it and discourages (or tries to block) everything that is not.

As sentient beings, it is nothing short of a miracle that we can experience everything from pain and suffering to happiness and bliss. It’s utterly amazing that we have a consciousness that can experience any feelings at all. Of course, it’s not quite so surprising when the ego/self steps in and grabs hold of the suffering and keeps us there, tormenting us with its blame and insensibility.  

The practices of yoga and meditation ask us to confront our suffering directly and stay the course with it, experientially, until it reveals the seed of liberation that it contains.  When we move closer to suffering, experiencing it fully, it transforms us and leaves us with an air of expansion and a greater understanding. When we allow this to happen in our lives, we are left humbled, and grateful.

Now, of course this is not easy work because we find it is painful to really, truly feel. It is terrifying to take that leap of faith, assured that on the other side of the abyss of suffering is the promise of a greater wholeness. Our ego tends to wonder if it’s worth the risk, or even possible. But when we soften the heart into non-judgment, then we are as we are. By releasing expectation, life is allowed to arise as it is.  Whatever life is moving in you today is a miracle. Receive it with an open heart and you’ll feel gratitude radiate from those parts of you that just want to be?

Gratefulness can also arise by realizing how many things we take for granted. Consider this – the poorest people in America now live with more luxuries than royalty had 100 years ago. We have running water for a shower, it’s even heated! How about indoor plumbing, we no longer need to go out in freezing weather and sit in a stinky outhouse. It hasn’t been very long ago that indoor plumbing was a luxury available only to the very wealthy. We have electricity, which means that we can stay up all night reading and never have to worry about running out of candles. Not even Kings and Queens could do that throughout history.

Try starting each day reflecting on what (and who) you are grateful for. Focus with intent on heart-felt gratitude. Don’t allow “woulda, coulda, shoulda” to come into play, remain a witness, without judgments and you have opportunity to see all the things you have to be grateful for; things like the simple smile of a child, the smell of a flower or the sight of a cloud against the blue sky, or even just the ability to wake up and take a deep breath.

Use yoga practice and meditation techniques to develop your inherent quality of gratitude and infuse your life with a deep sense of peace and joy. And in that place, you’ll have come full circle, finding it very easy to be grateful.

Of related interest, click on: Try These 12 Tips for a Healthier Life…

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500.

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