It’s November and talk of gratitude is in the air. We can hardly open our eyes in the morning without being bombarded by seasonal messages about being grateful for the bounty that we enjoy. But what if you’re not feeling all that bounty? Can you still practice gratitude? Yes!

When I contemplate gratitude, I often find myself also contemplating Patanjali’s sutras and the five kleshas (obstacles or afflictions), particularly avidya (ignorance). By now, you might be asking yourself, “What’s Todd talking about? What on earth do obstacles and ignorance have to do with a full practice of gratitude?” Here’s the answer:

When life is easy, so is gratitude. But the wise yogi is able to access feelings of gratitude even when life is hard.

Patanjali tells us that ignorance is mistaking the impermanent for the permanent, the impure for the pure, pleasure for pain, and the non-self for the Self. We are ignorant when we blame ourselves for our pain. We are ignorant when we believe that our misery is immutable – that it will never stop. It will! But it’s not when our circumstances change that our life changes, but rather when our reaction shifts. We can learn to be content and grateful even when circumstances are difficult.

Wisdom is knowing that every experience enriches our lives and helps us get closer to the Divine within.

Sometimes life is hard. Money is tight. Love is scarce. Pain abounds. The yogi knows that it is possible to be grateful for it all.  When we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, even toward the moments and the people who add challenge to our lives, we are able to use those experiences to grow and become the people we are meant to be.

Try a visualization today. Have a comfortable seat in a quiet place. Close your eyes. Allow your breath to deepen.

  • Begin by thinking of someone you love very much. See that person in front of you. Imagine yourself holding both of their hands in yours, and say, “Thank you” for all that they have added to your life.
  • Next, think of someone who helps you in some way. Perhaps there’s a service person or someone whose work allows you the freedom to spend time on something you enjoy or a librarian who has helped you do your work. Imagine yourself holding both of their hands in yours, and say, “Thank you” for all that they have added to your life.
  • Finally, the hard part. Think of someone who has brought challenge and strife into your life. It might be someone who has hurt you, or with whom you remain in conflict. Let go of your resentment. Imagine yourself holding both of their hands in yours, and say, “Thank you” for the lessons that you have learned from that relationship.

I am grateful for so much. I am grateful for my healthy body, my family, my students, and my friends. I am grateful for every encounter and experience I’ve had this year…those that pleased me and those that did not. Finally, I am grateful for the life-affirming practices of Ashaya Yoga and the opportunity to share them with you.

Let’s share more time together in the coming year. Please join me for a retreat or workshop soon.



PS: Are you located near Malone, NY? Space is still available in this weekend’s workshop! Please join us if you can.


November 15-17 Malone, NY LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
November 22-24 Mashpee, MA LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
December 9-10 West Stockbridge, MA LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
Dec. 27-Jan. 1 Stockbridge, MA LEARN MORE AND REGISTER
January 11-18 Blue Osa, Costa Rica LEARN MORE AND REGISTER