Thursday, October 7, 2010
I started going to church when I was 6 years old. My friend and her parents took me to their Baptist Church every Sunday. When I was 8 I switched to the Anglican Church in my own town and was confirmed and joined the choir. When I started high school I switched to the United Church because my friends went there and they had a great youth group. I taught Sunday School, helped in the Nursery, attended CGIT, started the Boors Head Dinner Christmas Celebration and helped with lots of special functions. My parents never once went with me, or even encouraged me to go. I went because I liked the feeling of community. The minister at the United Church said two things that have stuck with me for my entire life (well, he said many things but here are two of them). First, if the only prayer you ever say is "thank you" - it's enough. Second, praying is talking to God and meditating is listening to God.
Saying thank you and being grateful on a daily basis has been a personal ritual of mine since I attended that church. With my own family now, we often start our meals holding hands and saying one thing we are grateful for. One thing that drew me to the yogic tradition was regular practice of gratitude. The yogi's start each class with an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude for our bodies (exactly as we find them on the mat on that day), gratitude for each other and the community that supports us, gratitude for being able to live and practice in a beautiful part of the world and gratitude for whatever else we are feeling that day. Then we practice moving in a grateful way.
Often when I sit to meditate I will start by quietly affirming everything that I am grateful for. When I do that I feel my whole body relax and soften. When I am thinking about being grateful I'm not judging myself or others, I'm not worrying or doubting myself. Sometimes I will focus on my breath coming in and out of my body and be grateful for the breath. Other times I might just sit in the feeling of unconditional love - which is often what gratitude leads to. If I think about being grateful for my daughter or my husband - my whole body feels the love and I just let myself be in that energy and soak it in.
At this time of Thanksgiving we all have so much to be grateful for. I am especially grateful this year for the good friends that I have in my life. They keep inspiring me to be creative, push my edges, have fun, not take myself too seriously, give to the community and most of all they love me just the way I am!