Next week brings Thanksgiving and while reputed as a celebratory holiday of gratitude, it can also be a time of uneasiness and discomfort for many. Some gather with family members who, while blood-related, have nothing much else in common, others mourn the absence of a loved one who was at the table last year, and others feel sad about the geographical distance that keeps them from their families and loved ones during this holiday. So during a time that is touted as “celebratory,” how can we honor ourselves and the emotions that may show up that are not of a celebratory nature?
Last year I spent Thanksgiving away from my family. I had done this before due to geographical distance, but this time I did it for more than that reason. I wanted something simple, hassle free, relaxed – with no expectations. I wanted a day to honor myself and in the true spirit of the holiday, be in a place of gratitude. I wanted something simple – with friends – out in my new home in California. A dear friend, who I had known since college, invited me to spend the holiday with her and her family and a couple of friends. This sounded right up my alley. I planned the day with yoga in the morning with my favorite teacher, Saul David Raye, home to make the salad and asparagus plate for the meal, and then off to pick up a friend for the Thanksgiving gathering. The day was simple and warm and filled with sweet love – exactly how I had always wanted to spend Thanksgiving.
Now this is not to say that I did not miss my family. I did. I thought about them and smiled at the vision of them getting together. I was grateful that they were all together, grateful that I would see them soon at Christmas, and grateful that I had empowered myself to make a choice that was right for me this holiday. At that Thanksgiving, I celebrated with gratitude that l had a wonderful family back east and was creating a new wonderful family out west.
Recently I was listening to an interview on yogamates.com with Michael Beckwith, Founder and Spiritual Director of the Agape International Spiritual Center, on the power of gratitude. I was reminded that really in every moment we have a choice to be empowered by being grateful for our life, or disempowered by complaining and seeing life as “happening to us” rather than being a conscious creator of our life.
Is it possible that by making choices that empower us we enhance our possibilities of more good things for ourselves and therefore feel more gratitude — which in turn brings more good things? In other words, instead of a vicious cycle of complaint and misfortune, we create a virtuous circle of empowerment and good fortune.
As Beckwith put it, “So you wake up every single day and you ask – how can I practice this, how can I practice gratitude? How can I practice generosity? And then the Universe will answer that question.”
Do you think it is that easy? Do you believe that if you set up a cycle empowerment, gratitude and good fortune that it will grow?