Practices and Such

Okay, this is one of those small posts that include what happened at yoga class. I put this out up front. This post is not about yoga, though.

One of my lovely yoga teachers has spoken recently about gratitude. The idea is this: that to practice gratitude begets more gratitude the way sleep begets sleep. Now, anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that I am a three good things devotee. On Tuesdays, I even tend to share three. And so the idea, in my experience, is a sound one. I am certainly more grateful than before gratitude became a way of life for me. I am happier. I don’t have to practice gratitude; it’s become my lens.

As important as anything, I am aware of the connection between gratitude and observation. Gratitude’s foundation is the practice of noticing. Without this, you couldn’t figure out what to be grateful for. The big things and the small things take much more equal weight than before you begin to observe the fabric of your life this way. It’s as if you no longer only see the cloth but the individual threads.

While I don’t feel as if I actually practice gratitude, I do practice observation. Pretty much every morning when I open my computer I check in on Twitter. First, I look out the window. Then, I jot 140 characters or less about the sky, always with the hashtag #Sky. It’s the tiniest little thing, this moment with the colors or the colors and my day. While it’s Twitter and people read it, the truth of the matter is this: I do not write that line in the morning for anyone but myself. I find it immensely pleasurable to look out, pause long enough to see those colors, and take one more moment to put down with my palette—words—what I’ve noticed. That’s kind of how I hone my powers of observation.

Details are the work product of writers, after all.

photo by Hosie Baskin before the moment was lost of the head over head sleepers

Maybe, given what I’ve written you won’t be surprised by my devotion to the ritual of making New Year’s Resolutions, either. Much as gratitude and observation work for me, so does this pause to think about what’s ahead, and how I’d like to go toward the lighter days. Busy as I’ve been, I’ve quietly stolen moments to turn in, and I’ve begun to mull the resolutions from the darkest solstice fulcrum.

Whatever else I decide—and I’m sure to write about resolutions—I’ve already made one—and begun. It’s to praise myself every single day. This may sound simple. Do not be fooled. I have a track record of beating myself up every single day. This is radical.

I have the fact of my relation toward gratitude changing over time—as it’s become not “practiced” I realize the practice really changed me—to thank. And I have another yoga teacher’s suggestion not to “storyline” every single move to thank. To let go of narratives that may not serve you is powerful. What if I did that about the beating myself up? Let that go? Hmm.

No surprise here: I decided to make a list. I write down whatever praise I dole out to myself daily. The praise can be tiny each day, but there will be accumulation. For goodness sakes, it’s kind of brilliant (for me, maybe for you, I have no idea). We shall see.

The teacher who has spoken of gratitude likes the notion that it bubbles up. Here’s what happened at the end of class last night: on the third floor of a downtown building as we lie in a quiet room on the other side of the windows what floats above the street bustle but an a cappella group’s rendition of Brown Eyed Girl. Talk about gratitude bubbling up.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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