Be thankful no matter what is happening
Sitting on the plane flying back to Hawaii — gratitude is flowing over me. At the Symposium on Yoga Therapy And Research (SYTAR), I had the privilege to study with Lilias Folan who taught Yoga and You on PBS from 1970-1999. Her presentation was on gratitude. Lilias led a beautiful movement practice of gratitude even as she personally was in the throes of deep grief. Her husband of 60 years had just died.
Lilias didn’t share her grief story with the group. Her deep sorrow was revealed as she broke down in the ladies restroom the day before her presentation. One of my friends was there to witness and soothe her. This beautiful woman was struggling but during her moment in front of others, she didn’t show it. She directed the group through movements, led chants, and guided meditations on gratitude all with a smile on her face.
I recognized that smile —
I smiled that smile. So much of my life was putting on a smile when my heart was breaking wide open. Long ago, I’d made a decision to help others feel better no matter what was going on in my life. Showing up is one of my gifts. Showing up leading movements, reading energy bodies, reciting poetry, urging others to see the love and grace in this beautiful broken world.
This ability to smile in the face of pain is the force that has saved me time and time again. Saved me as I faced deep loss, suffered at the hand of others, watched my loves choose to drink or do drugs over me. It saved me as I smiled through yet another life challenge brought to me by an addict or struggling human.
Why was I not flat on my face? What kept me going?? GRATITUDE!
The thanks I have for this life, this day. Another chance to do it differently. To play with looking at the situation in a new way. To listen to the Universe spoken through many students and clients who without knowing it often say the very thing I need to hear — right at the moment I need to hear it.
Gratitude for my partner who’s hung in there with me through his own challenges and as a witness to mine. It’s not been an easy relationship. But it’s been real. Real messy at times and really, really sweet at others.
I see you there with me
And my partner’s not the only one standing with me and my smile. I look up at the many, many friends who surround me and I can’t help but smile. Yes, many people have left me, some in mean, hurtful ways but my gratitude doesn’t allow me to focus on them. I see those who are standing beside me.
I’ve noticed as one person leaves it makes room for others to come in. A revolving door of sorts and for some reason always spinning upward. There was a time when I only attracted needy people who wanted to take from me. But now, I’m experiencing full relationships with people who receive my love and give it back.
The full circle of love
This full circle of love brings in the joy that opens my heart wider and wider allowing me to keep going. Going as Lilias does with a smile on her face. I sense in her the gift of knowing as she gives she will receive. She knows that someone will catch her as she breaks down and soothe her sweetly back to her smile.
I’m grateful, endlessly grateful to all the challenges I’ve faced. I give thanks for the genuine smile on my face as I give to you — you give back to me. The circle dance of love. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. Thank you, Thank you!
Open your heart in gratitude
Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet to the floor. Take your right knee into your chest and walk your left foot to the right dropping your left knee to the floor. Take your right hand and bring your left heel as deep as possible into your mid-right butt cheek. Make sure your knee doesn’t hurt. Take your right hand back to your right knee and draw your right knee deep into your chest. Hold and breathe.
Take your left hand overhead and breathe opening to receiving love.
When ready hug both knees into your chest for a moment. Take your feet to the floor with both knees bent. Bring your left knee into your chest and walk your right foot to the left dropping your right knee to the floor. Take your left hand and bring your right heel as deep as possible into your mid-left butt cheek. Make sure your knee doesn’t hurt. Take your left hand back to your left knee and draw your left knee deep into your chest. Hold and breathe.
Take your right hand overhead and breathe opening to giving love.
When ready come out and hug both knees into your chest feeling the circle of love flowing into and out of you!
To do the full gratitude practice flow over to the Ageless Movement Practice page and join in. I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for in the comments below!