“Before you even start, make up your mind not to give up. Use your English Bulldog determination, Will Power and Bengal Tiger Strength. Feet together nicely at the line. Wipe your hands. Shift your weight to your left leg. Interlock your 10 fingers and grab the right foot in front of you. Hold it. Nice tight grip. Please don’t lose the grip. From the start of your life to the end of your life, concentrate on one point. Make sure you are always grateful to begin with – gratitude! This should be number one, solid, concrete, one piece and unbroken.

Inhale breathing and slowly, gently lift and stretch your life forward towards the mirror without interruption without intermission. Make sure your life develops exactly in alignment with gratitude, no less. If your gratitude is wavering, your life has not started. Keep stretching your life forward. Still if you can live with balance and gratitude, comfortably begin to carry out more of what you want in life. Keep gratitude locked in place. As long as gratitude is the priority, you will get 100% out of your life.” I know, nutty but what I actually “sang” (to myself) in class one night recently. If you are like me, my creativity can just flow and sometimes in way-off- the-beaten-path-kind-of-directions. I love it really as it tells me that I am less “heady” and more in sync with a force outside my normal boundaries. It also let’s me know a spirit that I am “feeling” rather than seeing as I’ve shifted gears from my head into my heart. And, it usually comes from something occurring now that is relevant and dominant. I smiled as I realized that it was coming from all of you!

Within seven days, so many of you generously donated over $7,000 in cash to assist in the high cost of Chris’s medication and medical treatments. Dozens of dishes, muffins, bars, desserts were made with love (and gluten free) to help feed Chris with nutrients he needs. Hundreds of you filled out birthday postcards that he literally opened one-by-one. Free massages for Kathy, Chris’s mom, lists of names willing to take Chris to and from radiation treatments, and now this month a wonderful juicing company donating cancer fighting juices to Chris’s home every day coupled with a fundraiser to sell these tonics to fund special meals for Chris for one month lunch and dinner as designed by a brain cancer nutritionist – wow, really! I have seen Chris a few times since he started radiation – he is home by the way – and he gets so emotional at the extent of graciousness you continue to give. Let me tell you that you might all get free memberships out of this if I am not a careful watchdog. I say that “tongue in cheek” because he is more than ready to jump into his seat behind the front desk where we always see him and be of service to you beyond measure. That will happen – just a matter of time.

In the meantime, we are discovering each other in ways that would never have been seen without this experience. Gratitude IS the word to describe the actions taking place here and in no small magnitude. And like I expressed in the poetic fashion in the first few paragraphs, if gratitude is in place then you get all benefits. If gratitude is not in place, life has not started. Another tongue in cheek kind of message but how many of us have heard from a book or a seminar, TV show or other that being grateful will only attract more of what you are grateful for? How many of us feel better, more alive, when we feel that attitude of gratitude. I do. And, I use that attitude a lot – in fact, secret is out now – but my folding of my arms at the end of class before I take my savasana is a habit to recognize ten things that I am grateful for – yep. Now you know. I fold my arms around the back of heart in expression of humbleness to the ten things that come to mind for and deserving of appreciation. It’s my hope that I can carry my yoga spirit and gratitude attitude into my “whatever is up for me today” day. I would encourage you all to do it but ironically, it’s me that’s a little slow on this gesture as you all are doing it in spades.

I believe our yoga in time fills us with satisfaction in our own being. It isn’t an easy path and all of us have situations to transcend in getting there. But we do. We don’t linger in that world of “I’m not enough,” or “if only I had…” and other useless judgments. It’s like making small deposits in the bank each day filling our soul with assets that one day give us enough empowerment to not only dismantle our critical voice but have enough left over to care and empower others – that’s where you reside members (and staff). Your gratitude extends far beyond the nose on your face. You on instinct are ready to help, support and give in areas that don’t necessarily effect or benefit you at all. I hope one day the world notices the impact yoga has on us collectively because of what it is doing individually. Gratitude is a verb, an action, a power of love that unleashes only more love in all forms with no limitations. Chris and I joked in the car one late evening as I was driving him home from the studio just before he was headed to UCSF for his surgery, that wouldn’t it be great to get rid of the trauma and yet hold onto all the beautiful epiphanies that come from a traumatic experience? I don’t believe that we will ever be any less than what we are now with gratitude as strong as “locking the knee.” And if I’m right our community will evolve with even more epiphanies that will define us as we continue to walk this path with Chris.