“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.”
“I don’t believe in gratitude.”
Just a few days before teaching Moving With Gratitude, a Dance and Restorative Yoga workshop at the Colorado Athletic Club last November, I lost my beloved dog of 15 years, Fiesta Higgins (July 4th, 2004 – November 22nd, 2019). She died peacefully at the Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists in Longmont.
Grieving is not a linear process. I have found many different feelings slithering in circles around my heart since the loss of Fiesta from the physical plane: sadness, emptiness, loneliness, fear, courage… There is also a feeling of peace knowing that she is no longer suffering from her physical ailments. Most of all though, I feel gratitude. I feel so grateful for having shared 15 years with the sweetest creature on Earth! I feel so grateful to have known a beautiful being who gave me, and asked from me, a new level of love, joy, worthiness, friendship, furriness – ultimately, Grace – that I pray never to forget. I am starting a memorial page for her and plan to add video, text, and more photos soon.
Meanwhile, I also felt grateful to have had a dance and yoga workshop to focus on in the immediate aftermath of my dog’s death because it required me to completely connect with the present moment – to be present – and not to sink into the sadness of her absence. It was also a workshop concentrated on, you know it, gratitude.
Gratitude is the antidote to grief!
Grief is the recognition of loss. It is the aching sense that we had something that has been taken away. It is the inevitable consequence of love and attachment in an impermanent world. Grief is the power that our memories possess to pull us into their tide, drawing us out of the present moment and into a sea of sadness.
Gratitude is the recognition of gain. It is the blooming sense that something has been given and received. Gratitude is the power that our hearts possess to stand strong in the midst of crashing waves with an appreciative – and maybe even hopeful – view of the horizon.
Gratitude is the antidote to grief.
Ekhart Tolle (author of the book/audiobook The Power of Now, which I’ve just recently listened to), is quoted as saying that gratitude opens the spiritual dimension of life. Ram Gopal Varma (filmmaker who made some Indian ganster movies that I remember enjoying), is quoted as saying that he doesn’t believe in gratitude.
Personally, from my experience, both gratitude and grief can open the spiritual dimension of life. And yet, we don’t have to believe in the spiritual dimension in order to benefit from practicing gratitude. The Buddhists say that we don’t even have to “believe” in our feelings, nor our thoughts – even when we feel them, even when we think them – but we can still observe the shifts that our thinking and feeling create in our lives.
When we find ourselves getting lost in thought or emotion, disconnected from the present, drowning in a sea of memories and the sadness of grieving: moving with gratitude is surely a way back to shore.
I want to give a shout out in thanks to my workshop partner, supervisor, and dancing diva Shira Souvignier for inspiring everybody at our event, including myself, to connect body-mind-heart to the present moment through dance. Shira has a positive, compassionate, playful, and encouraging attitude that is totally contagious. You’d think I’d be the one crying during the workshop but in fact she she was literally dancing with tears in her eyes that day, exuding a sense of gratitude for dance, and for all her dancers. I also want to thank everybody who attended the restorative yoga part of the workshop for their willingness to explore partner yoga at a time when touch is understandably a touchy topic in the yoga world. It’s encouraging to see people, sometimes total strangers, coming together and communicating about how they can best be there, fully embodied, to assist each other in letting-go, resting, relaxing, and re-connecting through yoga. Thanks also to everybody at the CAC for bringing community together in myriad healthy, well, and fun ways. And thanks most of all to my dog, Fiesta, for showing me so clearly how gratitude can manifest in movement, like little tail wags, that fill everyday with miraculous love.
May we keep moving with gratitude!
Join me at the Colorado Athletic Club Flatirons this month for: the New Year Dance Party on Saturday, January 11th; BollyX The Bollywood Cardio Dance Workout on Saturdays, January 18th and 25th; and Chakra-Inspired vision boarding with Restorative Yoga on Sunday, January 26th!
All rights reserved 2020