Several days ago I hit bottom. I was completely mentally drained and had nothing left to give to my family. I spent three days existing on empty. My spiritual well was dry. First I had to realize what was happening. For weeks I had been depleting my “backup resources” without having the chance to re-fill. I was still trying to give out all of my normal energy through my teaching online and to my family and friends but what fills me is the exchange of energy I receive from in-person connections. I realized that in my normal life I often encounter 30-50 people each day and now most days it was just the 4 of us at home. My spiritual well was not getting replenished.
Once I could clearly understand what was happening I started to think about ways I could re-fill that don’t come from that in-person energy exchange. It became clear to me as I remembered this powerful statement “It it not happiness that brings us gratitude rather gratitude that brings us happiness” that Gratitude was the way to re-fill my spiritual Well. So I began to incorporate channeling gratitude into my meditation and dove into my reading a bit. What I discovered became my message for my classes this past week.
As we began to warm up on the mat, I shared this beautiful passage called The Kinship of Gratitude by Mark Nepo that I had been repeating to myself over and over as a mantra.
“The goal of all experience is to remove whatever might keep us from being whole. The things we learn through love and pain reduce our walls and bring our inner and outer life together, and all the while the friction of being alive erodes whatever impediments remain.
But the simplest and deepest way to make who we are at one with the world is through the kinship of gratitude. Nothing brings the worlds of spirit and earth together more quickly. To be grateful means giving thanks for more than just the things we want, but also for the things that surmount our pride and stubbornness. Sometimes the things I’ve wanted and worked for, if I actually received them, would have crushed me.
Sometimes just giving thanks for the mystery of it all brings everything and everyone closer, the way suction pulls streams of water together. So take a chance and openly give thanks, even if you’re not sure what for, and feel the plentitude of all that is living brush up against your heart. “
As we flowed through a challenging heart opening and balancing asana series it gave us opportunities to practice gratitude in times of difficulty; as that is when we need it most to spiritually re-fill us and what better place to practice that then on the mat. Each time we entered Utkatasana (Chair pose– which is a pose I dislike) I asked them to channel gratitude “even if they weren’t sure what for” because we know what we practice on the mat serves us off of it in powerful ways.
As my week went on and I continued to share my message and repeat that passage in my mind I began to feel myself fill up spiritually and emotionally. I could almost visualize the “Well” filling up with energetic “water” that was ready to share again. Nothing changed in my life last week… I didn’t get to be with more people and I didn’t get to teach in person but what I did do was connect to this powerful force inside myself called Gratitude.
I often joke that our yoga practice gives us super powers. It helps us learn to love our bodies for the amazing things they can do and accept them for what they can’t. It helps us get to know ourselves physically and emotionally through mindful awareness that allows us to serve both ourselves and others. However, for me the most important “superpower” that this practice offers is the power of perspective. Once we have that, we can make magic happen; we can fill ourselves up with what we need.
I am writing this as a Thank You to all my students who have “filled me up” over these last several weeks. You have helped me connect back into my Gratitude superpower. Thank you from the bottom of my Well to the top of it. Sending love to you all. Namaste.