Reflecting on my travels (of which I do intend to write some more blog posts, in time) I have been increasingly aware of the power of gratitude in my life. I have so much to be thankful for, and both traveling and being home has highlighted that.
One of our meditations in my yoga course involved thanking the teachers that we have had throughout our lives – traditional teachers as well as all of the people that we have ever learned anything from. When you start thinking about it, it is almost overwhelming to think of all the teachers and mentors that I have had.
Everyone I have crossed paths with has taught me something. Mostly these interactions have shown me the incredible goodness and kindness of humans, everywhere I have traveled. When I start to think about it, even those people who have hurt me deeply have taught me undeniably important lessons.
As part of this meditation, we focused positive energy on influential people in our lives. With this focus, we thanked each individually, and then went a step further, visualizing dancing joyfully around them and showering them with flowers. While doing so, I had to chuckle inwardly, as I’m sure some of you wouldn’t actually like to have flowers dumped on your head (I know a few of you have some pretty debilitating allergies). This visualization seemed a bit ridiculous as well – but was it? Why not incorporate something playful while acknowledging how important some people are in our life?
Our instructor informed us that we would be receiving notes from some of the people that we focused our gratitude on. By putting the positive energy out into the universe, it would be felt and would be responded to. Despite my experience with the power of positivity, I was a little skeptical about this, but figured it couldn’t hurt. However, I kid you not, the next day I have no less than five emails or messages from some of the people who I thanked. Woah. Positivity.
I work with a wonderful woman at Westwood Hills Nature Center who shared with me something that she likes to incorporate into her life on a regular basis: gratitude walks. Similar to the meditation, on these walks she thinks about all of the people she is grateful for and why, bringing up all sorts of wonderful stories and increasing the positivity in her life. I practice this (or the ‘gratitude bike ride’ version) if I feel myself getting into a funk (and sometimes just for fun). I notice the change in my outlook almost immediately – it is so simple, but so powerful. It is also easy to find myself going on a much longer walk than anticipated, as there are so many people to be grateful for in my life!
In addition to the wonderful people in my life, I find myself grateful for so many other things. This is not an exhaustive list, and is in no particular order, but has been highlighted by my recent experiences:
Water I can drink right from the tap (and having access to it inside my house). Air I can breathe without a mask, even in the city. Easy access to healthy and inexpensive food. A supportive and loving family and friends here and worldwide (mentioned again, because of importance). A strong, capable body that carries me through these adventures. Access to a solid education. The ability to teach and learn from children. Being able to type this on a computer rather than a phone. Having both in my possession!
The right and ability to vote (despite the challenges of our democracy). The ability to be a citizen in my own country, to get a passport, and then to be granted visas into most other countries without a problem. Being able to choose the path that my life will take.
The green buds of the trees. The fleeting beauty of spring ephemerals. The copious water in Minnesota – the Mississippi and all of our wonderful lakes and rivers. Snapping turtles that look like dinosaurs. Plants that eat bugs. Our beautiful parks and the time to enjoy them. Morning sunshine. Gentle rain.
Knowing that I am significant in this world, but also feeling my insignificance in the presence of mountains, large bodies of water, and storms.
I am grateful for all of you as well, for taking the time to read this.
What are you grateful for?