Gratitude bestows reverence

sunset over large body of water with palm tree branches in foreground

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~John Milton

The intentional practice of gratitude changes us. And there are always moments and people and things to be grateful for, even in life’s hardest times.

How often do you focus on gratitude in your days?

On learning by experiment

toddler walking

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” ~Richard Branson

As a perfectionist by nature, I tend to think that I can’t do new things perfectly from the start, I shouldn’t do them at all. So I often try to master all of the rules before I’ll even give it that first try.

As you can imagine, I’ve missed out on any number of opportunities through the years with this way of doing things.

But this way of approaching new things is a choice I’ve made along the way (albeit an unconscious one). I wasn’t born this way. Once upon a time, I learned to walk by trying and falling over just like everyone else, so I know it’s possible even for me to do things differently.

As I’ve focused on re-learning how to live life experimentally—trying something new, falling, learning from the fall, getting up, trying it again a little better—life has expanded in so many ways as I learn to do all kinds of new things.

I’m learning to treat those falling-over moments as opportunities to learn and improve my approach for the next experimental attempt toward whatever new skill I’m practicing.

I have to say that this approach sure does make life a whole lot more fun!

What are you working on learning right now? Are you willing to get out there and do it, even if you fall over a time or two in the process?

Posts from other divisions of Chrysalis Wellness for this week

Angel figurine
Rethinking self-care as thought-care from the A Kintsugi Life blog
Silky calm cold process soap bar
Silky calm cold process soap bar from Autumn Leaf Botanicals featured products
Blue dumortierite stacking stretch bracelet with stardust sterling silver focal bead
Blue dumortierite stacking stretch bracelet with stardust sterling silver focal bead from the Earthwear Collection portfolio

The power of yoga is awareness

Yoga pose

Life has been good the last few months. Although I still have all of my usual challenges (plus a few sometimes), I continue to feel better and better about my life, about  myself, and about the way things are going. I have more energy. I feel stronger (emotionally and mentally). Opportunities keep appearing and things keep falling into place at just the right time.

As much as I am enjoying this shift, I keep noticing myself anxiously trying to pinpoint the reason behind this change. After all, if I know what is causing this improvement now, I’ll know how to hang onto it and/or repeat it in the future.

But it hasn’t been all that easy to locate the magical key to this shift I’m experiencing. For one thing, there are so many small changes I’ve made to my self-talk, my habits, my attitude, and my self care. Any or all of these things could be the cause of this shift. It’s been a positive cycle for me where each small shift makes room for another shift which makes room for yet another shift in an ever-increasing spiral of growth.

However, I did uncover one change I made that very well may be the foundation for all of the rest. I realized the other day that I started teaching yoga right after the start of the year, and that roughly coincides with the time when things started moving in a more positive direction. This may not sound like a big deal, but the discipline of teaching yoga has been the accountability I needed to re-engage in my own regular practice of yoga.

As I’ve pondered the possibility that a regular practice of yoga could the foundation for this positive spiral I’m experiencing, I have gone back to think about times in the past when I have had a regular yoga practice and times when I have not. To the best of my recollection, every time period where I have maintained a regular yoga practice has been a much more positive period of my life. Those times when I have neglected a regular practice have not been nearly as positive or as stable.

This is very interesting to me. You’d think that I would already have been aware of this connection since I am a yoga teacher. Clearly I see the benefits of yoga in my life or I wouldn’t have taken the time, money, and effort to become a certified teacher. And yet, the degree to which this is true in my life took me completely by surprise.

In this case, at least, it’s clear that there have many other choices and changes that I have made that have contributed to my current positive state, but I am also convinced that yoga provided the foundation that made all of those other choices and changes possible. The practice of yoga does so much to reconnect me to my body and to bring me back into the present moment. Although I’m sure the extra physical activity from the asanas helps, it’s truly the power of being present to my body and its wisdom and being present in the here and now that is such a transformative practice for me.

This awareness of the impact it’s had in my own life leaves me feeling ever more grateful that I have the opportunity and the honor to share this practice with others in my classes. I hear so many people say that yoga is not for them because they are not flexible enough (or strong enough or thin enough or whatever their excuse is), but it’s the awareness yoga brings that matters. Find a style of yoga or a teacher that resonates with you and give it try. You just might be as surprised as I am at what happens!

Quieting the chatter of the mind

The Yoga Sutras are a series of brief sayings (sutra means thread) that were written down by a yogi named Patanjali about 2500 years ago as a means of recording the basics of what the yogis at that time had learned about yoga and the yogic way of life. There are numerous translations from the original Sanskrit into English, and most of these translations come with their own set of commentaries on these short threads of insight.

One of my favorites of these sayings is Yoga Sutra 1.2 in which Patajali gives the definition of yoga. I’ve seen numerous long-winded and eloquent translations of this, but the one that is most meaningful to me is “Yoga is the ability to quiet the chatter of the mind.” What a simple definition, but what a challenging task for each of us to learn!

Although most people think of the physical postures when they think of yoga, it’s all really about learning to quiet the chatter of the mind. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished that I had a switch on the side of my head where I could just turn off my mind for a little while to gain a little peace and quiet—just a moment of stillness away from the rushing whirlwind of thought that barrels through my head every waking minute. So what a gift it is as I grow into my yoga practice to catch glimpses of this ability to quiet the chatter of the mind.

I still have a long way to go, but as I come back to my mat again and again to practice the postures, linking body and mind through the breath, I increasingly catch the spaces between the thoughts. I find more ability to notice them and let them fly on by without engaging any energy in them. I am more and more able to be present in this moment, in this space, in my body. I am able to take that step back and be a witness of my own thoughts.

This freedom from the tyranny of the mental chatter is what keeps me coming back to the mat, coming back to learn the ability to quiet the chatter of the mind.