Gratitude for the Polarity of Life

Lately, I’ve been presented with many, many, many opportunities for spiritual growth. The Great Spirit heard my prayer to Grow into a Teacher and ever since my Life seems filled with more than the usual share of lessons.

What lessons I’m learning now? Gratitude and self-love.

Yep. Oh sure, there are other ones mixed in, but those two are the biggies. How you ask? Well, there are self-defeating patterns deep within my subconscious that want me angry. These patterns say that I have to be perfect. They say that I must judge myself. They say that you can’t be grateful for things that hurt. You can’t be grateful for difficult situations. They want me to get angry with myself anytime I feel frustrated/annoyed. As if it isn’t human to feel such emotions. Basically, they want me to be angry with myself anytime I feel an emotion that is not joyful, compassionate, or creative. These patterns tell me that, clearly, I’m not good enough.

Want an example? Gloria and me were looking for food in the Atlanta airport. Generally, I’m not stoked about the selections in airports. Food is overpriced, low quality, slim portions. The first place we see is a ramen and sushi place that I immediately decide is my last choice. Turns out, it was Gloria’s only choice. A flash of annoyance that that is her only choice runs through me. Next, I imagine the lame excuse for plant-based options and the hunger I’ll have after I eat my shallow bowl of noodles. So far, so good. I’m Aware of my thoughts. Sure, they are ridiculously juvenile thoughts, but they’re there. Acceptance is the next step. If I accept them real, I can move on to the next step, which is action. But if I don’t accept the thoughts as real, and as my own, then those thoughts aren’t going to go away. The thoughts want to be felt. Like a dog who wants to be petted. They’re gonna keep at it. Well… I did not accept those thoughts. I entered an inner battle with myself. My face became expressionless while I berated myself for being bothered by the restaurant and by Glo’s choice to eat there. I told myself that it doesn’t matter where we eat. It’s just food. Why do these thoughts even enter my head? When will I get beyond this crap? Why do I even practice yoga if I still get annoyed with shitty food choices in an airport? I bemoaned a future where I constantly fail to become the calm mountain lake. These are reactions. A reaction is what happens when you fail to act from clarity. You react out of survival mode. I felt annoyed so I pushed back—reaction. Every action begets an equal reaction. The thought pushed back, I pushed harder. It pushed harder.

Glo was no fool. She knew what was going on in my head. It’s nothing new to her. Yet, because of Glo’s love, her presence is enough for me to galvanize my own self-love and snap out of the spiral. Course, not before her patience is tested.

What did I do? I shared with her my predicament. I told her of my inner battle. We talked about the path to gratitude: awareness, acceptance, action.

Alright then. Aware, check. Accept… ok, I accept they are mine. Something inward shifts. A release of tension… a good sign. Action, I smile at them. Suddenly, I’m ok. The battle disappears.

We are human. We live on Earth. Earth is constructed from polarities. Light and Dark. Sun and Moon. Oxygen and CO2. Land and Sea. Happy and Sad. Joyful and Angry. Kind and Evil. This is existence.
Yoga is being aware of this. Yoga is accepting this. Yoga is taking action. Once you accept the feeling, you can move beyond the feeling. The ripple passes you by. You remain undisturbed. You are free to take clear action. This is the path of Gratitude. We are grateful for the opportunity to Learn and Grow. It often hurts to Grow. Its where growing pains come from. If we want to keep Growing we need to adopt the Attitude of Gratitude. Be aware of our experiences. Accept our experiences. Take action.

Jesus was referring to this path when he advocated for turning the other cheek.

My teacher tells me that the greater the intention, the greater the temptation.

I know if you are reading this, you are on the path of self-exploration. You’re also being challenged. Remember to be grateful for these lessons. Awareness. Acceptance. Action.

With love and good vibes,
Alex