Well friends, it is the week of Thanksgiving. Last evening I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies, White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Danny Kay, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Allen. Yes, yogis do like old Christmas shows.
Well in this particular movie, there is a scene with Bing and Rosemary and they sing a song called “Counting my Blessings” The lyrics go something like this:
“when I am worried, and I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep…..”
As yogis, eventually we begin to develop this capacity to see wisdom everywhere and in all situations. The yogic lessons from thousands of years ago begin to reveal themselves in so many ways, in so many ordinary and everyday circumstances.
Ram Das used to speak of this in his stories during lectures he gave all around the world. One time he was traveling with Timothy Leary across the country and Tim would see wisdom in street signs and in the names of stores. They drove past a store called “Grand Union” and they thought…wow! Grand Union. A street sign….“Merge”……oh wow, merge…….
You see it is the way you see things and perceive…and this very natural human ability begins to get reprogrammed in your brain and consciousness the more you practice yoga, mindfulness and meditation. It is a beautiful thing.
I remember one time listening to the news while driving in my car. The news person was relaying a story about an accident involving a train and he said the experts said it was the fault of the train engineer and they stated that he had had a momentary “lack of situational awareness”. And I thought….isn’t that what yoga tries to remedy? Our own lack of situational awareness? Isn’t that what creates misery and unhappiness? And that is one of the amazing things that happens when you start to practice yoga and meditation regularly. You start to see differently and hear differently and interpret differently. It really is a beautiful thing.
So….back to White Christmas…there I was watching the movie as Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney sang this song together. And I thought about how, when we do our asana practice we count the breaths. And perhaps at this sacred and holy time of year, we could count our blessings with each breath we take!
In our culture today, our normal way of being seems to be to look at what is wrong with the world, with other people, other groups, with our family (that crazy Uncle Gene ……), with our lives, our jobs, our friends and even with our situation and ourselves. Look at your own life. How many times throughout the day do you complain or criticize someone or something compared to how often you compliment or think a positive thought or say a positive word.
We might also consider Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin’s lyrics in another way. Consider all of your worries, perceived problems, things we are frustrated or angry about. All of our fears and situations or circumstances that we have in our lives. Look at them as sheep. Do you tend to focus more on the sheep? Do you count your sheep? If you do….and yes, sometimes I do too! When you notice that you are counting sheep, start counting your blessings instead.
There is a core teaching from the ancient text, “The Yoga Sutra”, which says when you notice a negative thought, immediately replace it with a positive one. So why don’t we begin to replace all of those things that we see as wrong with our lives and the world around us with remembering the blessings in our life!
This holiday, especially THIS holiday, why not take time to get a journal and begin to write down everything you are grateful for. Write down your blessings each day until you run out of pages. You can write down what you are frustrated and angry about as well. Just make sure the blessing column is longer, and it surely will be if you look deeply enough. Then look up and see if the world looks a bit differently. You might find that you have a better sense of situational awareness!
This IS the practice of yoga
David Shiva Das
and BTW, watch out for more blogs this holiday season with yogic lessons from my favorite holiday movies!!