Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Shavasana, Stones, Memories and Giving Thanks

I go to an awesome yoga class at the Cancer Support Community near my house.  Due to factors outside my control (Greta's tonsils, a hurricane and my own bronchitis) I hadn't been in a month.

I practically sprinted to class.

At the end of class, we prepared for Shavasana (where you get as comfortable as you can, listen to calming music and meditate).  Gail, our teacher, passed out little flat stones we placed in between our eyes or on our heart, dimmed the lights, and turned on some classical music.

Immediately, my heart jumped into my throat; Pachelbel's Canon in D floated through the room, and I was transported back to my wedding day. My Dad walked me down the aisle to this song.

As I listened to the music, every sense felt electrified.  I could smell my Dad's scent: an Old Spice, manly-yet-fatherly smell. I felt the muscles flexing in the crook of his arm, as I held on for dear life (I was so nervous/excited my knees were shaking).  I tasted a small salty tear on his cheek, even though he was smiling from ear to ear, as I planted a light kiss on his cheek and he placed my hand in Steve's.

Tears started rolling gently down my cheeks; I was grateful for the darkened room.  I miss my Dad so much, and as the holidays approach he's on my mind even more.  Thanksgiving in particular, I think, because I miss his steadfast presence at the head of the table, his strong back carving the turkey with antique utensils used by his own father.  Last year at Thanksgiving we were reeling from my cancer diagnosis, and to be honest I barely remember any of it.  I know I was grieving, but I was also terrified and absorbed in my imminent treatment, so the grief was numbed by fear.

This year, the grief feels loud and pointy.

I lay on my comfy mat, with the cool stone pressing its comforting weight between my eyes, and I cried for a minute or two.  Then I prayed. Instead of indulging too much in my grief, I honored him as best I could.  The tears dried up, and I found myself with a tiny smile at the corners of my mouth as Gail turned the lights back up, slowly, and brought us to a sitting position for a reading.

I was blown away by what she read, and after a year of hardship and blessings, it seemed like she was reading it just to me.  It's called, simply, "Be Thankful", and the author is unknown:

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire. 
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something, 
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for each new challenge, 
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things. 
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, 
and they can become your blessings.

I was holding the stone in my hand, feeling how it had warmed from my body heat, when Gail mentioned there is a word on each stone.  

My word made me smile, given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  My stone said:  INDULGE.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May your life be filled with the richness of gratitude and love.



  1. Beautiful, Ellie. I often find Shavasana is time for a little cry, too.

  2. Happy Thanksgiving my beautiful God-sent friend

  3. Oh Ellie. Oh how I get this. Good thing I didn't read it before I went to that wedding last weekend or I would have probably been dreading it even more. But I loved reading it now. Loud and pointy. Yeah, that.

    Your yoga class sounds awesome. I gotta find something like that.
    -K. Telling