Finding Some Ease Around “The Tough Stuff” With A Bit of Everyday Gratitude

Spring

So, I’ve been feeling a lot this week, which is honestly uncomfortable for me. And I’ve had a whole bunch of emotion-provoking material to work with (read: there is some tough life stuff happening).

Work-related stressors are plentiful, a good friend moved away, my grandmother’s health took a turn for the worse, there is an abundance of things I want to do and not enough time to do them in, I’m choosing to do some of the things that terrify me, my right wrist has been acting up, the list could go on and on.

And with all of this stuff swirling around, this week I felt dark, heavy, worried, sad, anxious, lonely, afraid, depressed … You might as well have invited a violin player to follow me around for a perpetual pity party, because in my head — “poor me” — was the mantra.

But that’s part of life.

Darker heavier feelings are part of life. We will all naturally have times when we feel sad, lonely, worried, afraid, etc.  And this week in teacher training, we (oh so conveniently) happened to be studying Samtosha (or Santosha, spellings vary), the first of the five Niyamas or “lifestyle observances” outlined in the Yoga Sutras. Samtosha is often translated to mean “contentment”  — which Mary Paffard describes as a feeling of calm, ease, acceptance, going with the flow, even during life’s darker moments.

Giving the darkness some space.

The other night a friend and I took a detour on our way home and went on an impromptu froyo excursion. It was simple, uncomplicated and (despite my mood) fun! I felt grateful for our friendship and for the fact that she gave me the space to feel whatever I needed to feel (even though it meant I wasn’t my usual cheery self). I was also grateful for the way gummy bears get deliciously hard when you stick them in frozen yogurt.

The violin tune in my head dimmed.

Hmm, interesting.

Gratitude brings some needed lightness. 

Even though the darker feelings are a necessary (and important) part of life, we also don’t need to wallow there forever. As I considered the little everyday things that make my heart smile, it dawned on me that this is all just part of the flow.

Just as day turns into night, and then night turns into day, my moods are fluid, shifting, cyclical. The more I focused on gratitude, the less heavy and sad I felt. And while we definitely don’t want to paste a happy mask over our pain, when we focus on gratitude, it’s possible for the pain to dissipate and make way for something lighter — the dawn of a new day.

And really, when it comes down to it, I have all sorts of simple everyday things that I’m grateful for, even amidst the tough stuff. This week my list included:

♥ A beautiful sunset

♥ Sunshiny spring days

♥ Blooming flowers everywhere

♥ The smell of burning incense

♥ My cozy bed

♥ The way I can read the first page or two of any Pema Chödrön book and immediately feel calmer

♥ My 7:15 a.m. sitting practice (Want to join me? Most days I meditate for 10 minutes, starting at 7:15 a.m. PST. Some days I don’t. Can’t meditate at that time? Consider a deep cleansing breath or two when you wake up! :))

♥ TED talks (especially this one, this one, this one, and this one)

♥ Fine-tipped Sharpie markers

♥ Feeling comfortable enough to cry on my yoga mat

♥ New clothes that fit

♥ Sweet out-of-the-blue text messages from friends near and far

While the tough stuff hasn’t gone away, by tapping into my deep well of gratitude, I am feeling more ease, calm, and acceptance around it today.

How about you? How are you feeling? What are you grateful for? Would love to hear about you…

14 comments

  1. A froyo excursion is in my immediate future– I can feel it! Thanks for this…

    1. :) I highly recommend it! <3

  2. In thankful for blogs like this that prove I’m not alone in the sometimes overwhelming nature of life. Tumely reminder that there is always the sun and moon shining above even when you can’t see through storm clouds.

    1. Mmm, this is beautiful – thank you for that image… <3

  3. Cheers to times of just “ehh” and the beautiful new bloom that comes from that life cycle.

    1. And to froyo! xoxo

  4. I stumbled upon your blog, so hello!
    How brave you are, not just to explore your emotions and what you need to get through, but you sat down and shared this with the world essentially. What a great act of healing, without shame, but pride.
    I too spend a lot of time “feeling”,reflecting, crying, praying, and meditating on my beloved lavender yoga matt. Sometimes I do more of everything else other than yoga on my matt. But maybe it is all about finding our way, returning to our true selves.
    I greatly admire your grace and ability to share your journey.
    Love and be loved
    With great respect ~soul prancing~

    1. I so appreciate comments like this one….. reminders that I am not alone in these experiences, that we’re all in this together, that we’re all doing the best we can. Thank you.

      And it IS scary putting myself out there! But I have found so much solace in reading other people’s blogs (my personal favorite: http://lovewastingtime.com) that it feels really awesome to be participating in that conversation now. =)

      So glad you stumbled across my little slice of the internet! <3

      1. Seems I put my reply under the wrong post, showing you how human I am. But thank you for sharing the other blog too, I am already lost in it,embracing life, truly and honestly. Again I so admire and respect your truth and as it here you to feel not alone, it does the same for me also. Many blessings new friend.

        1. or maybe it ended up right where it needed to be! :) sending good energy you way as well. <3

  5. Beautiful post !! I am also getting through, by focusing on those froyo moments these days.
    The spontaneous treat, the deep belly laughs, the ease of conversation with old friends and feeling held by that, the possibility of possibility, wild fresia growing amidst the weeds in my yard, the sweetness of a quiet sleeping cat’s purr and those breathtaking sunsets you refer to… are my gratitude points, along with the solidarity felt when you read a fellow TT’s blog and think, thank goddess perhaps I am not alone in this mess. thank you for sharing this. xoxo

    1. Thank you for sharing your list Alicia! I feel calmer and more at ease just reading it…. xo

  6. I watched the power of vulnerability ted talk… Touched me deeply! Thanks so much for sharing it. When I’ve simmered down I’ll watch some of hte others you posted…

    1. yes! brene brown is ah-mazing! :))

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