I would like to share a guest post today written by the gorgeous Stephanie G. Spence. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!! Her honesty and openness tore my heart open with compassion and humility. Share some love by tweeting this baby, loving her page, or leaving a comment
On even what most would say is a truly terrible day, why do I feel like I’m the luckiest person I know? Gratitude. It’s that simple. OK , maybe it wasn’t always that simple – but it sure is now. Let me share with you how I came to feel this way.
I grew up in an abusive environment. All forms of abuse. All of them. I did not even know how much until my mid-life “adjustment” some years ago. When I entered a treatment program the first assessment was a piece of paper that listed trauma. It was a long list of various life altering situations and I was instructed to check the box of the things I had experienced. I checked every box. Little did I know, most people don’t.
The key to a blissful life, for me, is yoga. I’ve practiced for over thirty years now. Back when I began people thought it was so odd. My teacher wore a turban and what looked like a diaper. He never spoke in anything but Sanskrit.
I found yoga because of my back. I have Scoliosis. I was always in pain. Doctors back then were handing out Valium and Darvon like it was candy. A friend who was a personal trainer said, “Steph, you can’t take that forever. You should try yoga.” It was life changing.
When I first started going I was amazed at how much better I felt. I kept going back and I kept going back and eventually all of the other gifts of yoga started to emerge. I was centered and calm and learning to take the things I learned about myself on my mat off my mat.
Now that yoga is mainstream there is more of an awareness about the physical aspects of the practice. Yoga, though, has eight limbs. The physical (asana) part is only a small portion of a way of life. The truly most important part of any yoga practice, and actually the only reason to do yoga, is to get to Shivasana (Corpse Pose). It’s the meditative part of yoga. It’s where all the magic happens.
I’ve made attempts at meditation where you just sit and breath. I am better able to access the more profound and important aspects of meditation at the end of a yoga class. Whether I take a class or practice on my own, the central goal is to get to the meditative aspects.
The more important goal, though, is to use yoga as a tool for self-inquiry. For example: When you are struggling in a pose, where does you mind go? Mind usually goes to self-critical thoughts. I struggled for many years with this voice that was not very nice to me. I now know I am the person observing that voice – it’s not me. Yoga taught me that.
I never knew what listening to your intuition meant. Sure I knew on an intellectual level what it was, but I never knew that I could trust and believe in that voice. Yoga has shown me that when I go inward and look to my own wise voice I am always given some insight or answer. The solution to my question usually is gratitude.
I’ve learned, through much practice – as it is a tool that you develop – that if I can stop (usually by focusing on my breath) and find something to be grateful for I am living in the present. The reason it is called the present is because it is a gift.
We are living our lives one moment at a time. What is that moment like for you? Is it rooted in the past in some kind of regret? Is it focused on the future, which could be full of fear of the unknown? Yoga has taught me to dwell in the present. I return, again and again, to this place because it is full of light and love. It’s the “I AM” that I read about in books that is a place full of gratitude for the peace that is present right in my own soul.
So you see, my “curse” of a bad back has given me the most amazing life. I am grateful for the pain that lead me to the most awe-inspiring life. I exist in a place of complete and utter contentment. Sure I have challenging times, but even in the midst of something “terrible” I can step back as an observer and see that I am a part of the creative collective consciousness that we all share.
There is magic in being a witness to the awe of life. Sit right now and think about the unique gift that this day is – that this moment is. Learn to think of this as the first day, and the very last day, of your life.
Open your eyes to the beauty that surrounds you. Be grateful you have eyes. There is a constant visual beauty that is given to us. Experience the textures of your surroundings. Sense the splendor of a breeze on your cheek.
Look closely at something you see often, like a flower. This is an expression of life at it’s most spectacular that is existing in it’s purest form. No one tells a flower how to be a flower, it just is. So are we the same. I often go into nature to remind myself of the complexity of life. The grand expression of our unique self, a self that is unlike any other – any other – and the power that it exists in.
In this present moment all the people you meet are all connected. See something in them to be grateful for, for that also exists in you. All of the tools you use each day are gifts. Clean running water is a gift. Be grateful, for millions of people around the world will never experience this.
Open your heart to all of the blessings that surround you. Let the gratefulness you acknowledge be a tool of transformation. Try keeping a gratitude journal by your bedside and writing a couple of things that you are grateful for each evening.
Yoga is my tool I use to find bliss. Gratitude is a tool to take me out of a false reality that really doesn’t exist. Life is a gift. Be thankful.