All Things Life Enhancing
This was first written as a Teachers Voice in the November 2002 Innerlight Yoga email. I am posting it today Thanksgiving 2011 in gratitude for all the good things in my life - loved ones, yoga, this beautiful earth we live on, the sea, dancing, good food. Many thanks - Janne
We have all been taught to give thanks, to say 'thank you' when we are given a gift, to say thanks at grace before meals. In my family, it was carried to an extreme. My parents are Danish, and the Danes say thank you to everything. They say 'Tak' (thank you) and "mange tak' (many thanks) and 'tusund tak' (a thousand thanks). If you say 'tak', they say 'sel tak' (thanks back to you).
It turns out to be a very practical attitude. When we give thanks, we remember how much we have. We are reminded how much we have been given and if we examine it, we realize that so much has been given freely, without our effort – the earth around us, sunshine, birdsong, ocean waves; our miraculous intricate bodies; friends and family; work to do; play to play.
If anything, we have too much, how can we even list it all? If you begin to list all the people in your life that you have reason to thank, how long would the list be? Could you even remember them all? If you begin to list all the items in your life, how long would it take?
When we list the people and things in our lives that we are grateful for, it soothes the fear in our belly and brings us back into the remembrance of the love that surrounds us. It keeps us from dwelling in grasping for what we do not have and brings us back to the moment.
As we begin to give thanks and savor every moment of our lives, we begin to live fully, in the moment. It becomes a circle. We live our life in gratitude, and so fully experience each moment, giving us even more to be grateful for.
Gratitude leads to openness, releasing the tightness of “I don’t have”, moving into the openness of “Look what I have been given.”
Gratitude grounds us and lets us soar, neither leaning forward in “I want” or staying back in “I didn’t have’ but sitting in the moment, supported and surrounded by “I have – Thank you”. We find a steady and comfortable place in life. “Sthira sukham asanam.” Yoga Sutras 2.46
Janne Lembke Jensen Sahady 2002
Illustration by Evan Moore
This was first written as a Teachers Voice in the July 2004 Innerlight Yoga email. I am posting it today Thanksgiving 2010 as a memoriam to Raphael Boguslav, a remarkable man and a friend. I had the good fortune of sharing many Thanksgivings with Raphael and Mary Ann, meals that will remain for me the standard of cooking and hospitality for the rest of my days. Wherever you are now Raphael, I wish that you be safe, happy, well-fed and in the companionship of good friends. And I hope that there is enough white space on this page. And enough white space in the lives of all who may read this.
You can probably tell that the flyers at Innerlight are created by us, the community of Innerlight teachers. Over time, I have become aware that I could use some help in my approach. So this past May, when I was creating the flyer for the Seaman's Church Institute yoga classes, I sought the advice of a friend, Raphael Boguslav.
This is sort of like asking a biochemist for advice on making a cake. Raphael has designed many of the signs in Newport, the elegant calligraphy for John Mecray prints and logos for Fortune 500 companies. But Newport is like that, full of creative talented people who are generous in nature. Raphael graciously offered to critique my flyer design in return for a Key Lime Pie.
His main point? White space. I needed more white space. I needed to say less and leave lots of white space.
It had never occurred to me. I just figured you tell 'em everything, show 'em what you know, creatively squeeze in as much as possible on one page.
I have been mulling that lesson over ever since. It is profound. White Space. Not just in flyers. In life.
As a yoga teacher, I am learning, if I say less it lets students hear more of what I say. More silence, more white space, to allow space for the student to have their own experience.
When I talk with friends, I am realizing that if I say less it lets my friends respond more to what I do say. Have you ever noticed that if you start talking and talking, people tune you out? We all need time to digest what we are hearing.
And in life, if I don't crowd in so much in a day, I savor more fully what I do do.
It's what we have been saying all along in yoga classes. Slow down. Be present.
It seems some lessons I learn over and over, and this is one. It is important to leave white space in my life.
I thank Raphael, and yoga, for the reminder.
Janne Lembke Jensen Sahady 2004