Do you ever wonder, out of the vast variety of human experience on this planet, why you were given yours?
I get upset when my Internet goes down. Meanwhile, each day around the world there are folks who discover the different colors of each other’s skin for the first time.
Last week, my dad traveled to Buseesa, Uganda, with Engineers Without Borders to research biogas as an alternative, cheaper fuel source as well as more efficient wood-burning cook stoves for villagers who live on less than $1 a day.
In other news, I just bought a bag of $5.99 vegan chocolate chip cookies.
It’s so incredibly easy to get caught up in consumption, whether of food, the things in our homes or even emotions. My world-traveller dad writes that these Ugandans are the friendliest folk he has ever met.
One. Dollar. A. Day.
It’s difficult to feel ungrateful when you pay attention to your abundance. But I’m not referring to comparative abundance — “They have so little; I have so much, so I must be grateful.” The amount of money or things matters very little when it comes to happiness.
When we feel obligated to be grateful or happy for what we have because others don’t have as much, we’re supposing that they want what we have. And we can never quite be sure unless we ask each person to whom we’re comparing.
A new definition of abundance
So it’s time we take back “abundance” in order to feel good about being grateful at our expense, and not others’.
Old abundance: A very large quantity of something.
New abundance: The underlying reality that all you truly need in this moment is available in every part of your life.
Abundance is found in all the ways you and your partner love, rather than focusing on all the ways you drive each other crazy.
It is in your intention to see opportunities in the most difficult, trying situations, rather than wonder “why me?”
Abundance in yoga asana is all the ways in which your body can move and what it’s moving toward because of your practice.
It is how nature takes care of itself — and us — even when we’re not particularly nice to it.
Gratitude for abundance doesn’t just exist in a verbal “thanks.” It shows up in our actions. When we pick up trash on the side of the road and recycle it. When we spend an hour in the kitchen cooking a meal for our family.
When we say “namaste” to each other — and mean it.
You don’t need to attract abundance
Abundance is around us at all times — if we choose to see it. That’s why we don’t need to attract it as much as tune into it. It’s like going to the grocery store and stopping to wonder what the heck a kohlrabi is. It was there the other seven times we came; we just never thought to look.
If you’d like to practice this way of looking at abundance, here’s where to start:
Whenever I feel jealous of what someone else has, I remember there’s more than enough in this world for us all. And whenever I feel like I shouldn’t have been given my cozy life, I remember that I was given it for a reason.
What separates me and you from rural Ugandans is geography. In all other aspects of being human, we are granted the same choice: live in or ignore the abundance that’s right here right now.
Funny thing is, once you start to tune in and be grateful for who you love and what you have, more often shows up. But by that time, you’ll forget you ever craved more in the first place.
How do you define abundance? Let’s get grateful in the comments.
Try it: Heron Pose, Krounchasana
It wasn’t that long ago when this pose was not accessible in my body. I hunched. My leg was bent. My other knee, planted on the ground, argued its way out. My body told me no.
But my mind knew better. Heron Pose is a more “advanced” posture in that it requires more openness in your hips and hamstrings. And yes, you can look like this as long as you practice. Maybe practice after you’ve eaten a lot of beans. Funny fact: This pose helps with flatulence. (I’ll let you be the judge.)
Note: Though your knees and legs may feel tight in this posture, please come out of it safely the moment you feel pain. If Hero’s Pose is too much, you can perform the pose instead by laying the bottom leg’s knee to the side, as if in Head to Knee Forward Bend, Janu Sirsana.
- Sit in Hero’s Pose, Virasana, with knees together and hips on your heels. Stay for at least three breaths. Lift back up to your knees and separate your feet hip distance. Place your palms on the backs of the calves, fingers facing down. Roll the muscle outward as you sit back between the heels. If the sit bones do not come fully down to the ground, sit on a block. Stay for five deep inhales and exhales.
- From this pose, unwind your right leg forward. If you find this too awkward or uncomfortable, lift up to your knees and come into Half Hero’s Pose from both legs straightened on the mat in front of you. Settle the sit bones evenly on the mat.
- Bring your right leg into the body and encircle your fingers around the bottom of the foot (or use a strap if you feel your back rounding). Lean back as you inhale, draw the shoulder blades together and navel in toward the spine. Exhale and relax the neck, checking in with your body before moving further.
- On an inhale, straighten the right leg by pressing through the heel. Keep the knee as bent as you need if the hamstrings are tight. Take care not to strain the upper back by pulling too much on the leg. Aim to bring the leg up 45 degrees while lifting through the torso with relaxed shoulders.
- Optional: Tell your dog to jump and take epic yoga photo.
- On your exhales, gently guide the right leg higher until you’ve reached your edge (you may have already reached it!). Breathe into this space for five deep inhalations and exhalations
- Exhale your leg gently back down to the ground. Plant the foot down, knee bent and use your palms on the mat to lift yourself out of Half Hero’s Pose. Swing the left leg around in front of you. Repeat on the other side, coming into Half Hero’s Pose as outlined in step 2.