by Angela Clark
As my daughter hits her 10-week mark, and I find myself grateful her grandparents are in town visiting, I think about all the new experiences I’ve had in (just) those 10 weeks.
I can reflect on how many opportunities I’ve had to wake up, be fully present and rejoice. Nineteen hours a day, seven days a week for 10 weeks straight! Wow, lucky me! I can also reflect back and say, “Oh, I did that all wrong. I’ve screwed us up forever, and most importantly I’m exhausted!”
Yes, I have a baby. It’s very clear where the exhaustion originates. But, any new experience we have can exhaust us. Falling in love, falling out of love, meeting new people, taking on new work or more work. And, more importantly, they are all opportunities for us to wake up and be with what is right in front of us.
It’s a rare person who can always see the glass half full (I know of two people who are that way, and I’m not one of them!). I work really hard in my practice to see things as they are and not react to them. But throw in a little exhaustion, and not only is the glass half-empty, I’ve drunk the other half. Not a pretty sight. Through lots of practice over the years, I’ve learned to catch myself, and although I may lose my cool from time-to-time, my recovery time is much quicker.
So how do we catch ourselves in those moments of challenge, in those times of despair? In these new experience that upset the balance of what we know to be true? How do recover more quickly?
Gratitude practice, I call it.
First, we have to be aware. Aware of how we are feeling, and then we have to be 100% honest with ourselves about how we feel.
Second, we have to recognize the things in our life we are grateful for. Perhaps it’s your job, wife, friends, or yoga practice. Then, we have to acknowledge these people and situations a lot. Not just when someone reminds you to once every four months. Remember, it’s a practice. You should do it every day (no physical exertion necessary).
Third, we need to WAKE UP! Right when we see we are exhausted, frustrated, and scared is when we need to voice how we are feeling, preferably in a non-harmful way. Then, when we see that we are about to react, or most likely already have reacted, we need to realize those were our feelings we may have just spat out on our wife, co-worker, friend or husband, on the person or situation we are grateful for, and we KNOW we are grateful for them.
And then, in short, we need to own up to our behavior.
Owning our behavior will look different for each situation. It may not always be an apology, or it might very well be an apology.
The key is that we KNOW what we are grateful for and so our glass is half-full always and we can see that. So when we’re met with new experiences and challenges, we are not looking to fill our cup, but rather have the space needed to be present with what is at hand.