From my experience living in L.A. for the past 20 something years and spending Thanksgiving together with in-laws and distant family members, the excessive amount of food and wine, along with ads for Black Friday sales, can cause the opposite of Gratitude.
One important tradition that we honor in my family is to say Grace. The definition of the word Grace, is “a prayer expressing gratitude”. Whether we actually give thanks for that huge feast or mostly for our families and daily life blessings, is of course, an individual choice.
In Sweden we have a wonderful word “lagom”, that I personally am very grateful for. This word means “just enough, not too much”. If you ask any Swede, what lagom means, you’ll see a look of recognition. This word makes me think about grace as a way to live life. To have enough, but not too much and not too little. To recognize, cherish and enjoy what you have. I like to apply the concept of lagom in my life in general, but especially for Thanksgiving, to remember what the holiday is really about. I eat with grace and use all my senses to enjoy every bite of food.
When practicing yoga, we connect to gratitude in every class. We practice to move with grace. In order to move gracefully, you must be present in the moment. Yogis use the Breath as a tool to stay present. The breathing technique is called “Ujaii”, which can be translated to the victorious breath, meaning the breath is victorious over the body and the mind. We breathe through the endurance of a posture and master uncomfortable physical situations by guiding our breath into the sensation and relaxing into it. The breath brings our attention into the “now”, as we can hear and feel how we breathe. Therefore, we master our mind by luring towards the present. This is how we train ourselves to be present in life, and how Yogis are able to move with grace and elegance as opposed to reacting to every little challenge or stressor.
At the end of my yoga classes, we reflect of the emotion of Gratitude, which is healing and positive. It also does something very special, it boomerangs back and increases that which you are grateful for. Yogis figured this out thousands of years ago. As we embody a living prayer of gratitude, we draw forth good things – like a magnet attracting success. When we say grace over our meal, we send it a healing energy. When we eat the beautiful selection and savior our meal, the food heals and nourishes our body on a deeper level.
So, when we gather around the table for Thanksgiving, remember what you really are grateful for, despite the business of the holiday. Challenge yourself to stay present as you choose “lagom” of the foods that heal you. Move with grace as you converse with family and friends, and remember to take a deep breathe here and there. Appreciate and be thankful for all the blessings you have in your life at this moment, and you will share the joy and create more of it. As for me and my family, we enjoy writing in our gratitude journal each day. Let us not be Grateful just on this one day of the year, but every day of our lives, and we will see returning positive energy.