The end of October, we say goodbye to Halloween, costumes, candy, skeletons, and pumpkins (unless you’re a pumpkin spice lover — you can keep that all through the Fall season), and we greet November, a new month, a new day. And, we meet the same challenge we face for every new month and day. How will you choose to greet this new day?
For the month of November, I have chosen to greet and receive each new day, each new moment, with gratitude. It is a powerfully transformative practice which can radically change your perspective. Thankfully, we have more than enough reasons to have more than one day of Thanksgiving. I offer you the challenge this month of meeting each day being grateful for something new. I will start my day tomorrow, November 1, being grateful for this community that has not only held itself together through the pandemic and studio closure but has grown and reached out to others to join us. The friendships and relationships that were formed in the warmth of the studio walls have expanded to include the squares in the Zoom online studio. This community has held me together as well, helping me cope and manage all the changes that have occurred over the past 19 months in the studio and in my life outside of the studio.
There is a purpose and an importance for coming together as a community. There are many examples in which singular entities gather to function as a collective in order to not only grow, but become stronger, more secure and, sometimes, more powerful. Animals travel in herds for protection, our cells come together to form larger systems of the body to be able to function more efficiently and powerfully, and an infinite number of celestial bodies form the cosmos that make up this wonderful universe we inhabit. In all these examples, there is a mutually dependent relationship between the one and the collective. Without the many parts, the collective wouldn’t be able to function in the way it does. Without the whole, the parts wouldn’t be as protected, or powerful or have the same purpose.
When we come together as a yoga community it is called a “kula”. In Sanskrit “kula” means a grouping together, anything that is bound by contracting energy forces. Generally, when we use this word in yoga, we refer to the community of the heart. The community or the common unity, formed by people who want to come together, not because they should but because they choose to. We all have an impact on each other and the whole; our actions influence others. Coming together for practice, we feed off the energy created in the room whether we are in person in the studio or in our boxes online. We have a common unity. As we come together each day to find peace and calm in our minds and strength and flexibility in our bodies, we encourage ourselves and each other to evolve and grow. We support and, in many ways, protect each other. When we leave our yoga mat with that more luminous inner flame, and we shine that glow out into the world as teachers, parents, grandparents, lawyers and nurses, among so many other professions, we carry that light into an even larger community. We are all part of many communities, whether it is our family, our circle of friends, our work group, our town, state, country. When we are present as a group, the scattered consciousness can come together and expand. Our yoga practice helps us to stay centered in challenging situations, it strengthens our commitment to the causes we believe in, and every moment we spend breathing consciously and connecting with each other on our mats translates into acts of kindness, generosity, love and gratitude in the world off the mat.
Join me in my November gratitude challenge. Each day offers us an opportunity to be grateful for something, whether it is big or small. If you are at a loss at any time, www.gratefulness.org is a resource of practices, information and a community dedicated to cultivating the capacity for any of us to be grateful and have better than average days and lives. This practice of gratitude is truly transformative. Join us for any one of our in-studio or online classes this week. You will be grateful that you did! I look forward to seeing you on your mats.
With much gratitude to you for reading my musings, Leslie