When you open up a prayer to the universe, often the answer comes back (if an answer comes at all) in a whisper: hints that slightly illuminate one path over the others, a sudden calmness of the mind that finally lets you make your own decision. These whispers do end up coming more frequently the more you train yourself to hear them, but they are still subtle.
Once in awhile, however, an answer will crash over you like a wave, making it impossible to ignore. Such answers have come to me only three times that I can remember. Once in college, after a personal tragedy left me lost, and the opportunity to study abroad in London helped me get back on track. Once while I was in NYC, after the final straw on a pile of heartbreaks and failed relationships led me to meeting my now husband.
And the most recent wave, which has been building over the last few weeks, has finally crashed over me. Last month I mentioned that I provided a private virtual yoga class as a prize for Breastfeed Durham and La Leche League Durham’s National Breastfeeding Month’s celebration. The winner and I had our class together on Sunday, and though I was the teacher, it was a transformative experience for me. This was the first online class I’ve taught, and only my second opportunity to teach since I moved back to Sweden in 2018.
As I planned the class for the winner, working through the sequences, and translating/tweaking a meditation I had written for a Swedish class, I was hit by how much I absolutely love teaching and sharing yoga with others. In many ways, yoga has been a Godsend in my own life, and being able to provide that opportunity to others is both humbling and gratifying.
So I started playing with the idea of offering virtual personalized yoga and meditation classes via my website. I added a “Yoga” section to the top menu, which has descriptions of the sorts of classes I am offering and a button to send me a message for more information. I didn’t advertise it because I was still so uncertain in my ability to do such a thing, and as such, I haven’t received any messages yet.
But then I got a call from the local trade school that hosted my in-person yoga course last spring. We had wanted to have an outdoors class over the summer, but unfortunately there was not enough interest. But this time she was calling to tell me the 5 week long fall course is already full, and asked if I’d be able to offer another 5 week course immediately after. She also mentioned the possibility of other courses in the future, perhaps a “mama and me” course or a yin yoga course.
This was the crash of the wave that I needed. The universe is telling me to focus on yoga right now, and I plan on listening! If you are interested in a virtual yoga class, please click here, or follow the section in the top menu! In the coming weeks/months I hope to streamline this system a little more, so that you are able to “order” a class directly from the website. Dear Hubby has suggested even adding a youtube channel with general classes and guided meditations. I am often wary of technology and the separation from community it can cause, but this is definitely one of its benefits. What an extraordinary time we live in, that I can share a yoga class with someone living 4000 miles away! It truly is mind boggling in ways.
So this week, in thanks to the universe for giving me the push I needed, I offer you all this gratitude practice. Having an “attitude of gratitude” has been shown to have positive effects on one’s physical and psychological health. Gratitude journals and writing exercises have become increasingly popular in recent years, but I’m offering a different approach.
This is a self massage/gratitude meditation, best performed after a shower or bath, when you are most likely applying cream or oil to your body, but it can also be done whenever and wherever you want to give yourself a little self care. It aims to focus on the emotional body, as accessed through the physical body. We store a lot of emotions within the body, which can often manifest in the posture, or as aches and pains within the muscles. (For more information on the body as an emotional storehouse, I highly recommend The Body Heals Itself by Emily A. Francis.)
Self Gratitude Meditation
Begin by finding a comfortable place to sit, preferably on a stool or chair, or some position that you can easily reach down to your legs.
Using lotion or body oil if it feels good, begin by massaging your feet. Make sure to massage the oil over your entire foot, heel, insole, ball of foot, and between the toes. As you massage your feet, thank them for how they help you. What you say is completely up to you, but a suggestion would be “Thank you, feet, for keeping me grounded and in touch with the earth.”
Next, move up to your legs, massaging the oil along your whole legs, knees, thighs, hips. The legs are often associated with direction, goals, and beliefs. Appreciate the help they give to you. A suggestion might be “Thank you, legs, for helping me to stand tall for what I believe in.”
Move up to your lower torso, buttocks, abdomen, sacrum. This area often stores tension related to unvoiced aggravation, as well as vulnerability. Massage the oil or lotion into the muscles, thanking your lower torso for helping you. “Thank you for helping me sit on an irritation that is bothering me, so I can come at the problem from a place of quiet and reason.”
Massage your hands, allowing the oil to massage between the fingers, and into all the tiny muscles in the palms of the hands. Thank your hands for their service. A suggestion is, “Thank you for maneuvering all obstacles.”
Next, massage up along your arms. Your arms represent duality. They can push or pull, embrace or protect. As you massage your arms, thank them for how they help you, for instance, “Thank you for your protection.”
Move up to your shoulder muscles. Spend as much time as you need here, for the shoulder muscles are often very tight. The shoulders store a lot of emotional baggage, especially guilt, shame, and fear. Thank your shoulders for how they help you, for instance, “Thank you for your strength in bearing responsibility.”
Note: I use a different oil on my face and neck than I do the rest of my body, therefore I generally don’t include them in this practice. If you would like to, massage and them here, making sure to thank all the individual parts of your face: eyes, ears, nose, mouth.
Finally, move to your chest and heart center. Begin by simply placing your hands over your heart for about a minute. This area is literally at the heart of your emotions, and if we hold a lot of past trauma, it often shows up as a rounding forward of the shoulders, over the chest. Send love to this area, and see if you are able to shine your heart forward by rolling your shoulders back.
When you feel ready, begin gently massaging the area at your heart center, while saying something such as, “Thank you heart/chest, for providing the resilience I need to not be set back by hardship and challenge.”
Sit in peace for as long as you are able, to soak up the gratitude.
The light in me sees and honors the light in you.