Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life. ~Rumi
Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form. ~Rumi
There’s a complicated relationship between grief and gratitude. They can destroy each other. Gratitude can be just as much about having as not having.
Kelly, a student who came to YD’s philosophy class on Sunday, has the kind of eyes that are inspired, smiling in the corners– the kind of eyes that remind you everything is going to be all right. Kelly described how she spent two hours on top of Old Rag Mountain the other day, freezing, until everything just disappeared.
Courageously, Kelly just quit her job. She didn’t want to define herself by her job title anymore. That’s a pretty bold move, especially in what some say is a workaholic city, famous for residents asking, “What do you do?” before they ask for your name.
Jen, sitting to Kelly’s left, is going home for the holidays. She explained there was a loss in her family, so things would be different and difficult this year. I mentioned I facilitate yoga for grief workshops, exploring how pain and loss manifest in the body.
In the grief workshops, we examine how we breathe, hold our muscles, and experience our skin. We explore postural grief—how we use our brows, gaze, chest and shoulders to help us physically and energetically move inward to find our foundation of self. As we release these physical manifestations of grief, we have greater capacity to develop healthier grieving methods, bringing honor to what/who we perceive as lost.
Jen and Kelly are in totally different situations, but the issue is the same. When someone or something essential to our sense of self is lost, how do we re-define ourselves?
If our sense of self is reliant on too many external factors, e.g. a job, reputation, loved ones, bank account balance, body image, car, home, etc., our dependence on these external factors leaves us vulnerable to the never-ending, maddening cycle of fulfillment and loss relating to those external factors. Perhaps Jen and Kelly are finding ways to re-define themselves, with a little less reliance on the outside world, and more of a sense of the inner self.
This inner self is the still spot within us, around which our experience revolves. It’s our center. It’s who we are before we’re born and after we pass, and every moment in between. It’s the “you” that doesn’t have a name. Some say it is awareness itself. Our inner self is what we can tap into when we’re letting everything disappear in warrior one, savasana, meditation, or on top of Old Rag Mountain …
Do our daily situations deserve the drama we allow them? When we rest in our own true nature, whether we’re in a natural position like a yoga pose, in a natural setting, or anything else that helps us tune into our individual place within a larger natural order, we often experience the clarity we need to know and value ourselves. So the drama falls away. Like Kelly said, it all just disappears… so there is more space for you to just be. That’s part of why Yoga District came about- so we can re-learn how to just be and befriend our deepest sense of self.
When we’re looking at all the things we have to be grateful for this year, let’s look back at what we’ve lost and let go of. How did these losses give us an opportunity to tap into our deeper selves? What else can we let go of? Can we overcome the “cult of busy,” the excitement of self-importance, and just be grateful for our raw selves?
I’m committed to letting go of the holiday drama. I’m going to forget about measuring up in my family’s eyes. I’m losing my sense of pride as I ask for forgiveness. I’m losing my sense of judgment as I forgive others. I’m trying to let go of it all until everything disappears (in a good way).
May our yoga practices remind us how special we each are, just the way we are. From that place of self knowledge and self acceptance may we have the spaciousness and love we need to make radical change so that we can fearlessly live according to our highest values and deepest self.
My highest value is being of service to you. Thanks for the opportunity and here’s to many more!
From Jasmine Chehrazi, edited by Cory B.