Sustaining gratitude on a daily basis is difficult. Sure, finding gratitude is easy. Just listen to Morning Edition on NPR News and you'll be flooded with it. "I'm grateful to not live in AIDS ravaged Africa." "I'm forever grateful to not be in a war-torn country." "Thank you universe for my beautiful house and minimal debt." There are so many horrible, terrible no good very bad things happening around the world, it's a piece of cake to find gratitude within our privileged lives. And how long does your brilliant wave of gratitude last?...About 45.6 seconds. As soon as you thank God, or the Universe, or yourself, you shunt back into your daily life of to-do lists, work responsibilities, and kvetching over the slow driver keeping you from your desired destination.
It's such a bizarre occurrence to at one moment be in a mindful/thoughtful state and the next, going full speed into your day with only your needs and desires at the helm.
We all need something to bring us back to reality, to gratitude. This morning, my something came in the bathroom.
First, some back story. In 2000 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It has been a long hard journey (one to be regaled soon I promise) of natural healing and clean eating that has brought me to my current state of health. Well that is, until a few months ago. I'd been seeing a lovely acupuncturist who put me on some herbs to "warm me up". (I tend to have cold feet and hands. Problem with having freakishly long toes, I suppose.) The herbs definitely did their job, including warming up my intestines. Since then I've experienced flare-up symptoms I've never encountered before. Again, no need to get graphic but let's just say, they are NOT fun!
My initial reaction to each trying bathroom escapade is, "This is Bullsh-t! I eat perfectly, do yoga, take deep breathes. Why is this happening to me!?!" Definitely not the most ZEN approach. Recently with my morning adventures I try to preemptively quell my frustration by repeating, "This is a journey, a process, the next step in my healing." I take a few deep breathes and wait for the unpleasantries to pass. And this leads me to where I found my gratitude. My symptoms this morning were shocking. So shocking in fact I wondered if I was going to make it to yoga at all. Was it safe to leave the bathroom? Should I even get in the car? During this bathroom debate something fantastic happen. Suddenly, everything began to calm down. My tummy relaxed, urgency diminished and I began to feel normal. Normal enough to make it to yoga in 5 minutes? I had to give it a shot!
As I pulled up to the studio, signed in for class and gently rolled out the mat, my entire body flooded with a wave of gratitude. "Thank you body for letting me enjoy my yoga practice. Thank you for letting me be here. I'm forever grateful for your flexibility and cooperation," I sighed. And let me tell you, it was the strongest class I've had in months! Every pose was a gift, an honor just to be in. Don't get me wrong, tomorrow I may curse the elderly driver or stress-out about work but today, today I am committed to feeling grateful for my body, its gifts and am open to the possibility of taking this gratitude with me into tomorrow. We shall see.