Friday, November 21, 2014

Love + Contentment = Gratitude

When asked, "How do I love myself?," Thich Nhat Hanh began with these words: "You breathe in. This is an act of love." Can you allow yourself to believe this? Can you begin turning towards yourself with love simply by breathing in? There is a depth of acceptance and compassion here that melts my heart. 

When we practice yoga,  we include the idea of not harming our self.  Can we accept the radical practice of contentment - being fine with what is so -- not falling into the wanting/needing/regreting/envying? Can we see that this inhale is the resource that sustain us, and through which we are free to release ourselves from the patterns of thought and action that harm us and others? This simple breath in -- this inhale -- can be enough to bring us a feeling that in this moment we have what we need. (Try this when confronting the issues of overeating over the holidays!) 

Thanksgiving is a pleasant moment to stop a few minutes and acknowledge the wonder of the body in which we experience life. It is the ground for all our opportunities for adventure and inquiry that being a human being allows us, no matter what we own or what we look like, who we are with or what we eat! The essential quality of breathing in is such a gift to the self - the living body! And with each inhale there is the release into the exhale, the letting go of the gripping, the fear, the worry over whatever it might be that limits your sense of being fully happy with who you are right in this moment. 

May your next few weeks of shorter days and longer nights, be exhilarating! Enjoy the cold winds and the contrasting warmth of an interior life. Allow each inhale to bring you happiness and each exhale to express gratitude for that. Take a few minutes now -- and later -- to breathe in love towards yourself - giving yourself what you need; and breathe out all that you no longer need - allowing yourself to accept what is so and feel content.

I feel grateful for this breath, for the breath we share. As I recenty told one student struggling with the uncertain outcome of another round of chemotherapy, "Even when I am sleeping, I am sharing the breath with you." That comforts us both.

Explore your ability to turn towards yourself with love in this very next inhale -- and allow your exhale to feel sweet. Enable your sense of contentment! These two principles are part of the underlying core of yoga practice. Not to harm, Ahimsa, is one of the Yamas (social disciplines), and to accept contentment, Santosha, is one of the Niyamas (inner disciplines). The Yamas and Niyamas are part of the Eight Limbs of Yoga as described in Patanjali's Sutras. Fertilize the seeds of gratitude, "Breathing in Love, Breathing out Contentment."