Perhaps it’s cliche on this Thanksgiving morning to highlight the idea of gratitude, but on day five of my seven day Hot Yoga challenge, gratitude is certainly at the forefront of my mind.  Maybe it’s because the yoga instructors at my studio have all been keen on the use of the word gratitude this week, making it a theme and focus in class, or maybe I’m just feeling a sense of Thanksgiving holiday cheer and being thankful for the things in my life.  Whatever the case may be I am acutely aware that the sense of gratitude has been permeating my life for the past week or so.

That’s not to say I haven’t felt the weight of life, frustrations, and pitfalls throughout the week.  After all, when you become aware of things for which you are thankful, the opposite can become somewhat crisp as well.

Yesterday I had a session with an individual who is facing some heavy life challenges.  In his body I could feel the weight of things bearing down upon him physically and emotionally.  After all, life, no matter whether it’s the highs or lows, leaves palpable imprints and changes in the tissue of our bodies.  The frustrations of a hard fought, frustrating day may result in cricks, pains, and fatigue, while the enthusiasm of an exciting and positive day can leave one energized, vibrant and open.  Understanding the connection between one’s experience in life and one’s physical being is paramount to understanding the true nature of how our lives affect our bodies.  Can you tie the two together?

Now, I’m about as pragmatic a massage therapist as exists in the world.  However, working with my client yesterday, and feeling how the weight of his circumstances were affecting him, I remembered that sense of gratitude I had taken from my yoga practice. Bringing that energy to the session and breathing positive relief from physical and emotional pain, I ended the session with my hands firmly on his chest.  ”Breath into the weight of my hands,” I told him.  ”Breath in and feel the struggle it takes with that kind of pressure bearing down.”  After a few breaths, I took my hands away.  ”Now breathe without the pressure…breathe again, and remember the distinct feeling of those first breaths after the weight has been lifted.”

When we know the difference and can arrive at the point where we’re breathing free from the weight of life bearing down…then perhaps we have found one place where gratitude lives.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.