Thanksgiving yoga. Open to gratitude and open to love

i think I love you.  All of you.
i think I love you. All of you.

It’s Thanksgiving week and I’ve been thinking a lot about so many things I’m thankful for.  All this gratitude has me feeling kind of tender and open and maybe a little worn out.  Because I am really thankful.  So much that I tear up and stare off into space sometimes, feeling those big feelings.  I’ve also just started my period, and I’ve given up trying to pretend that life continues as normal when these floods of hormones are coursing through me.  It just isn’t baseline, normal.  I move more slowly, things feel different when they come in and I don’t doubt that this fact has a little to do with all the staring off into space and feeling my heart and general emoting that is going on with me this week.

My yoga practice can be kind of exhausting when I’m in this very feely-state.   Practicing opens me up even more and then more feelings arise and some of them are a really big deal, and then it takes time to sit and be with what can feel like revelations after a deep meditation.  This morning, I wasn’t in the mood. I wanted to turn down all the gratitude a little and be more “normal,” whatever that means, so I slept in deciding I could do my practice later after the girls were at school.

At some point, I rolled out of bed and woke up the girls.  It was pajama day at school so getting dressed just involved putting on socks and shoes. While that was going on, we had some snuggles and an adorable conversation about the tooth fairy and the fifty cents she left for Nora.  We had breakfast and I managed to scrabble together a pretty good lunch for them. We got through the whole morning with no yelling…a remarkable thing.  This wasn’t helping me to turn down the gratitude.  I was still feeling it in a major way.  I dropped off the girls at their wonderful school, and they looked so adorable in their pajamas that after I wished them a great day, I felt the need to reach out and send kissy sounds  as they got out of the car, “I looove youuuuuuuu both so much…”  They had already grabbed backpacks and turned to get out of the car so I don’t think they actually noticed that second display of mine.

I watched them wistfully as they did their waddle-run to the school, their heavy backpacks swinging side to side. Then the woman who monitored drop-off kind of leaned down to look in my window and started smiling and waving goodbye. I had to drive somewhere. Two very overdue library books were in the seat next to me and I was almost out of gas, so instead of coming right home to do my practice, I decided I should really run some errands …during rush hour.

I pump the gas, and for a little while, I wonder about the bundled up homeless woman who is drinking coffee and the landscaping man at the pump across from me.  Then, I get back into the car to head to the library book drop.  That new song “Let her go” is playing, and that’s a major tear-jerker.  I can already feel the emotion stirring around my chest and throat so as the considerate and patient people in the rows of cars next to me stop so I can pull out of the gas station and cross 3 lanes of traffic, my friendly wave of thanks may be a touch overstated.

Thus far, my morning attempts to stifle the gratitude tenderness and emotion are not working very well and then something off the charts-emotional happens.   I am able to get to the inside turn lane at a very long and busy stop light with no trouble and after a great song and two light-cycles, my car stops at the front of the lane.  These cars to the right of the intersection begin turning across the road into the lane right next to me and one after another,  all of them make the relatively tight turn without hitting my car. As these cars flash by, I get a sense of  zoning out because I’m not seeing the intersection in the way I had a moment before.  But actually I’m not zoning out at all.  I have this really quiet, tunnel-vision kind of experience where the music goes far away and my vision gets a little soft, somehow but the cars moving fills my awareness.  It is more like a zoning in to what is happening.    Does it sound kind of crazy?  Well, it felt kind of crazy.  Not because I had never experienced something like it before but because in this moment, I can pay attention to it in a way I haven’t before.  Anyway, there is the no hearing and soft vision and the cars moving but mostly, I was aware of my thoughts.  Thoughts came to streaming into me in quick succession and eventually exploded into a inward-feeling-connection-Thanksgiving-blast.

Here’s a summary of the thoughts: 

These turning cars come really close to mine, but don’t hit my car.  I guess it’s not the cars that don’t hit me, it is the drivers in the cars.  All of these drivers are all going somewhere, just like I am and they have children to take to school or people that depended on them or jobs to show up for. They all have important connections and roles to play that have them out on the road at the same time I am. They all have important lives. At this moment, I start to feel pangs of love for all of these people that are turning past me.  I think I actually love them.  How can this be that I love all of these strangers that I can’t even see?  My mind is kind of being blown by this and then my vision widens and I look to see that there are so many more people in cars going places and I wonder, Is it possible to love all of them?  How can I, small Amanda, possibly have enough love for all of these people in all of these cars all around me? How? And, I’m not kidding, it is in this moment that I actually feel a warm wash bucket of softness and peace and understanding pour over me.  I see that love isn’t something I have to generate or even understand.  It doesn’t come from me.  It comes from some infinite source and if I don’t have to hold it or make it happen, then maybe I can let this infinite amount of love for all of these people all around me come on through.

And there I was. Loving all of these people.  For real.  I was feeling something that I had attempted to avoid or didn’t know was possible or didn’t feel ready for, but it came through anyway. LOVE.  Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.  I love you.

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