Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gratitude- The act of Gassho

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. ... We must be the world we want to create.” - Mahatma Gandhi

I deliberately waited until after Thanksgiving to post this entry, because I feel that gratitude should be a daily expression. This time of year, most of us adopt a way of being that is more caring and giving. You will find people, usually strangers wishing each other a happy holiday. In general, we become more tolerant and understanding the closer we are to these holidays.

If we take stock of our lives we will find that we have much to be grateful for. Each day that you are in the wonderful adventure called Life is a day to be grateful for. As human beings we have a natural tendency to focus and highlight the negative in our lives. Consider for a moment, that if we merely switched our perspective instead from the negative to the positive, our daily outlook would shift as well.

Starting with the physical, I had injured my back a week ago and so moving or kicking or even sitting in some cases was very uncomfortable, to say the least. As a Karate instructor not being able to move, kick, or sit properly made teaching quite interesting! So I had a choice, I could focus on the negative, my lack of mobility and back pain, making each day a miserable one. Or I could focus on the positive, my lack of mobility and back pain, which caused me to slow down, listen to my body and get to the root of the pain and tightness in my back. It caused me to look at different methods of stretching and to engage in some yoga. This in turn allowed me to be centered and at peace while I was practicing. I was also able to engage in various strengthening exercises which diminished the pain and increased my range of mobility.

Granted this is a small, albeit mundane example of a perspective shift, but it was profoundly impacting on other areas of my life. If you take on an attitude of gratitude you will find that every area of your life will be impacted.

In the area of relationships we have all heard that life is too short to harbor grudges, this is true in my opinion. When you are grateful to have someone in your life, the arguments that can occur, the cold wars, and the silent treatments all become petty wastes of time if you truly shift your perspective. Be grateful that you have someone in your life to love, and that you are loved by someone in return.

When we train we do something that is called Gassho, which means being grateful for. At the beginning of each class we put our hands together over our heads and bring them downward to our center. In many cultures this is a symbol of humility and gratefulness. When we do it in class we are humbly thankful for another opportunity to train, we are thankful for all who have come before us who made it possible for us to train. It has even broader applications, when we perform Gassho we are thankful for all the people in our lives who made it possible for us to have one more opportunity to train, starting with our parents and ending with our teachers and fellow students.

Some words to remember:

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude."
- Albert Schweitzer

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body

Sensei Orlando


Steven Veltema said...

While the process of sitting in proper seiza has much to teach physically, it's the bowing that where I find great value. Grattitude to students, giving opportunities to train. Gratitude to fellow practitioners, revealing new ways to look at ourselves. Gratitude to teachers, patiently pouring into our thick skulls their hard won skill and knowledge. Gratitude to masters, for living and teaching the way. Gratitude is truly the best reason to excel and ten times the motivator that any self-centered reason could ever be.

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully written.

with much warmth and love,
Lisa Sanchez