Gratitude is defined as ” the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. That sounds magical, but my goodness how do we get there? How do we learn to operate from a place of sincere appreciation and kindness?
When I first read “Awakening the Way”- the first chapter from Sharon Gannon’s Magic 10 and Beyond – I noticed that she linked gratitude with another valuable quality: humility. Humility means to be without pride, to honor all beings as equal, precious and divine. I wondered, as I first read the chapter, how gratitude and humility were linked. It was interesting to me that anyone would choose to speak of humility in a chapter about gratitude. But just like most realizations with yoga concepts and realizations, they happen when you’re practicing; they happen when the vibrations are pouring through the vessel; we plant the seeds, and then the growth and the flowering show up in daily living. The connection of humility to gratitude, the essence of her beautiful and inspired words, actually showed up in me after I had been consciously Awakening the Way on a daily basis.
I started embodying gratitude.
A few months after starting the Magic 10 and Beyond practice, I was walking in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Needless to say, I took a wrong turn (but a shift in perception now proves that this wrong turn was 108% right)! As I stopped to look at my cellphone map, a small black cat looked at me …and meowed. My first thought was “I hope someone helps that cat” But because of my daily Jivamukti Yoga practice, I was quickly reminded that someone was me. So I carried the cat through the streets to a shelter but by the time we arrived I had fallen in love so I took him home and named him Krishna (more properly known at the NYC School as “Kitty Krishna”).
The next day on our trip to the vet, a woman asked me where I found him. I told her and she remarked, “You’re such a good person!” At first, that comment felt good, but it sparked pride and a sense that I was the doer- that I saved the cat. This is where humility came in. I carried the cat home because I was in the divine position to find him, and because I have the good fortune of a home and the ability to buy him food and toys and necessities. I have the good fortune to know other yogis who gave me a copy of another of Sharon-Ji’s book “Cats are People Too” that taught me how to care for Krishna. I was humbled to see it this way and in that humility, I was immediately grateful. I felt not proud but thankful that I had been given this opportunity to meet and know this amazing little being. You might say it was a shift in perception, from pride to humility, awakening the pathway into gratitude.
The gratitude practice detailed in the book is how I start my days, but if I’m honest (and humble ) I admit that I often forget my gratitude as the days wear on and challenges arise. I carry a reminder stone with me to remember, to come back. When I am living in a place of gratitude and humility, I feel lighter, freer and happier. It truly is a magical shift in perception to awaken into that reality!