December. Full of joy and sparkling lights. Full of cold bugs, coldness and darkness. Every coin has two sides eh?
How are you feeling?
Me, I work up earlier than usual this morning. It was still completely dark. I wasn’t feeling full of joy, to put it mildly (more to do with being day 26 of my cycle than anything else: I know from charting my monthly cycle all through this year that days 25/6 are often the days my inner critic gets LOUD).
But I still took myself to my meditation cushion and sat and allowed whatever was coming up, to come up. It wasn’t particularly pretty. But, with mindful awareness I offered kindness towards myself and to what I was feeling.
I began my usual practice – focusing on the cool-in breath at the nostrils and the warmer out-breath. I gradually took my awareness down through my body to ground.
Feeling grumpy, I continued to breathe.
How do you want to feel?
And then the thought flashed into my head – “do you want to feel grumpy today Stella? No?Then how would you rather feel instead?”.
And my answer was “content”.
So I decided to change the record.
I looked for what I could feel grateful for in that moment. I felt deeply grateful for my yoga room: having my own small space to roll out my yoga mat or sit on my meditation cushion. I let this feeling of gratitude unfold and expand to take in my body and my health. I felt grateful for my yoga students and teachers. I felt grateful for the unstinting support and love of my husband.
And very perceptibly my mood lifted. I truly felt more content and lighter and more peaceful. And more present. The thoughts running through my head worrying about things which might or might not happen disappeared.
You’ve probably heard many writers and teachers advising a gratitude practice.
Let me add my voice to theirs.
Finding something, anything, to feel grateful for if you feel tired, down, grumpy, alienated, lonely or angry will connect to that place of inner peace and stillness which IS within you.
Meditate on gratitude
Try it now.
What can you feel grateful for here, in this moment?
If you need some inspiration then let me share with you this beautiful meditation by the author and teacher Jack Kornfield:
With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day.
With gratitude I remember the care and labour of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.
I offer my gratitude for the safety and well-being I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the blessings of this earth I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the company I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given.
I offer my gratitude for the life I have been given.
— Jack Kornfield, “A Meditation on Gratitude and Joy,” from The Wise Heart
With so much love,