When I teach yoga, a few minutes into class I invite students to join me in bringing hands together at heart center in the universal gesture of gratitude and to pause for a moment to take note of something for which they are indeed grateful. “It can be anything,” I tell them. “A person, a pet, this warm sunny morning, the fact that you get to do yoga.” Once they’ve identified that which they are grateful for, I encourage them to allow that spirit of gratitude to inform their practice that morning.
To me, that’s one of the most important moments in the whole class. Because while all the downward-facing dogs and triangle poses are fun and make the body and mind feel good, the opportunity to connect with our sense of gratitude offers rewards beyond simply thinking a happy thought.
Gratitude. To me, it’s a form a mindfulness that, like all mindful behaviors, amplifies my appreciation of life’s moments, particularly the small ones that so easily can pass unnoticed. I’m grateful for an exchange of smiles between strangers at the gas pump. For the dogs on my lap. For daily conversations with my kids. For the sunshine streaming in through the stained-glass window in my office. For my first cup of coffee in the morning.
As a person with multiple sclerosis, I find gratitude to be an important counterweight to any “poor me” feelings that might stray into my brain. No, I’m not happy I have MS, but I am happy for the opportunity it’s provided for me to think hard about my life, about what I value and what I can trim away to make more room for those things I treasure.
So, if you care to do so, please join me in bringing hands together, thumbs at heart center, to enjoy a moment of gratitude right now.