I was in a yoga class once that ended on a hot day when I experienced a missed opportunity to truly live gratitude. We were all seated in the lotus position, the lights dimmed and the door open so the breeze could blow through the studio. Soft music played in the background and our hands were pressed together in our hearts as we whispered our names. At that moment, a man apparently suffering from mental illness stepped through the open door to say hello and ask, "What are you all doing here?" He was kind enough, but the response was instant. The people closest to him dispersed while others turned away or shook their heads. Nobody answered him. I wanted to, but I wasn't collecting my thoughts fast enough. The teacher rushed over to tell him to go, pushed him out the door, and closed it behind him.
It was like everyone in the room had forgotten what they'd done before the man walked in. Yoga classes often end with students saying Namaste as an expression of gratitude for the experience they had just had, the teacher who conducted it and the fellow students with whom they shared it. But it is also widely viewed as a spiritual connotation, as a conscious recognition of another person's soul, the divine light that dwells within all of us. Some translate Namaste literally from Sanskrit, meaning "The light in me acknowledges the light in you."
I think my classmates decided that not everyone is worthy of a namaste. I don't wanna be too hard I understand why people were scared, like they often suffer from mental illness, or turned off by the disorder when they were in the middle of a peaceful moment. But if we'd all taken a moment to just notice this man (an act of resistance), I would have quickly realized that he meant no harm to us. He was just curious and, I think, lonely. It seemed like most of all he wanted someone to talk to, and here he had found a group of people in a quiet place expressing gratitude. We may forgive him for thinking we were the kind of people who are receptive to his attempt to connect.
We live in an amazing time. When we are part of the Information Age, we can learn all kinds of wisdom and ancient teachings as well as all new ones. Yoga has been practiced for hundreds of years. There are verses in the Bible about gratitude. There is truth and power in these ancient ways, but let's make sure we get the best out of them. These ancient concepts should be more than just things that you think silently or say on the autopilot. If we really want the benefits, we have to learn how to live them.
When you are grateful for something in your life, you need to find a way to bring some of that grateful energy back into the world instead of holding onto it. Only in this way can it flow.