In November I participated in an amazing project spearheaded by Lauren Tober called Capturing Gratitude. The assignment was to take a photo each day of something we were grateful for. I’d met Lauren at a Yoga Reach one day marketing intensive. We were paired together to give each other feedback. I was immediately struck by Lauren’s clarity, vision and caring nature and when she shared her project on gratitude I couldn’t wait to participate. I am so happy Lauren agreed to be this weeks guest blogger – I know you’ll enjoy her words as much as I have.
How gratitude has changed my life
Over the past few years I’ve been immersed in gratitude.
I’ve been practicing gratitude, reading about gratitude, writing about gratitude, sharing gratitude practices with my yoga students and psychology clients and encouraging people all over the world to photograph things they’re grateful for, to tap into the infinite well of bliss that is gratitude.
This accidental practice has changed my life.
Gratitude found me, I didn’t go out seeking it. And when I started sharing my gratitude practices with others, they started sharing their stories and photographs with me and it’s these stories and images that have carved something beautiful in my heart.
I was recently asked to write an article on gratitude for the Australian Yoga Life magazine, and to prepare I interviewed three very wonderful women. Rachel Zinman, Katie Manitsas and Rochelle Schieck.
Rachel talked about the way gratitude supported her through her diagnosis with pre-diabetes, and led her down the path of developing the beautiful flower yantras that she now makes all over the world in retreats and teacher trainings. Katie spoke about karma yoga and gratitude, and how helping others in need not only supported them, but also helped her to appreciate how lucky she really was. Rochelle shared a practice that her teacher had given her. For 6 months she was instructed not to ask for anything, and as a result she developed a deep appreciation and gratitude for what already is.
In our culture it seems to me that we have such a strong pull for wanting more. A bigger house, more money in the bank, more time to practice yoga, a stiller mind, the list goes on. But what if we were content with what we already had? What if we integrated the niyama santosha (contentment) into our every day life, so that instead of being caught up in striving for and manifesting our desires, we deeply experienced and enjoyed the wonderful things that were already present?
My experience of this has been a subtle yet life changing shift in my consciousness. Wanting takes an immense amount of psychic energy. Energy which may be better directed to enjoying what already is.
I have two young children, so my asana practices are significantly shorter than they once were, and often involve children climbing on my back in download dog (yes, mummy is a slide). Now, instead of feeling guilty about not practicing ‘seriously’ enough and dreaming of an hour to myself every morning to practice in silence, I embrace the chaos that is my life each morning, practice with my children around (and over) me, and feel grateful that I have these beautiful beings in my life, a healthy body that allows me to move into asanas and that my children are growing up in a household where yoga is the norm. For this I am grateful.
When I made this shift, and lots of other little ones like it, I felt deeply blessed for everything in my life. The psychic energy that I once directed to wanting something to be different, I now direct to being grateful for what is already here. And really, it’s liberating.
I still think there’s a place for creating and manifesting in our lives. What if though, we created and manifested from a place of contentment and gratitude, rather than from a place of needing, wanting, striving and clinging?
Can you feel the difference?
To me the latter feels empty and like I’m striving because I’m not good enough in some way, that I need something else to complete me. And the former feels full, luscious, expansive and abundant.
So gratitude. I bow down to you. Thank you for all you have brought to my life. Namaste.
Dr Lauren Tober is a yoga teacher, clinical psychologist and photographer based in Byron Bay and Mullumbimby (Australia). Download a free gratitude meditation on Lauren’s website www.laurentober.com and join Lauren and Rachel in November for www.capturinggratitude.com (an online photographic gratitude project)
Thanks lauren and if you’d like to read Laurens article in Australian Yoga Life it’s in stores now.