Poetry for Challenging Times

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The Gratitude Post

thanks-418358_1280So, by this time every year, everyone’s talking about,
re-posting, or writing their own virtually-obligatory article about gratitude.

I have mixed feelings about this topic.

My thoughts begin with this article that I’ve kept coming back to this month. It posits that our hearts have an electromagnetic field that extends up to 5 feet from our bodies, through which we are energetically sharing what we feel with others all the time. Thus, when we hold positive feelings in our hearts, we increase our own frequency and can share what we’re feeling with others. Once we become grounded in this awareness, we get to be in charge of what we project out into the world. The energetic realm is quite amazing, no?

Then there’s this other side of gratitude that’s so cliche. I lump it in with the mainstream messaging we are constantly fed around positivity and happiness, which I think Barbara Ehrenreich totally nailed in her 2009 book, Bright Sided. These are not feelings we relate with very authentically. In western culture, we overplay the need to be positive all the time, which I think often causes our positive expressions to lose power and meaning. (Hallmark holidays come to mind…) Barbara, through this book, you validated me at a time when I really needed it. Oh…

I teach yoga in a women’s prison. I was there last night, the night before Thanksgiving, and shared both of these ideas with them — that we can spread positive sentiment and actually affect other people simply by feeling it AND that gratitude is something we can all work toward, but sometimes, it just doesn’t come….and that’s okay. You’re actually not a bad person if you can’t “think positively” or conjure up something you’re thankful for. Sometimes it feels like it’s blasphemous to say I’m not happy right now or I’m not feeling positive or grateful or hopeful or whatever it is… it doesn’t mean that state will persist forever. It shouldn’t create a certain judgment about you as a person.

It’s ok to question. It’s ok to feel down or faithless. Feeling things fully is what allows us to move through those states. Why is it so difficult for human beings to hold  two opposites at once? Why can’t both of these things be true?

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