Most of us spend a lot of time planning for or anticipating the future. Though it is natural to make plans that support our well-being, we tend to constantly look ahead thinking about what we need to be happy. In doing so, we often miss the opportunity to fully experience the present and enjoy this moment as it is.  This is one of the reasons we decided to practice gratitude for the month of June.

Gratitude begins with awareness of the numerous things we already have to be grateful for. In a world where many people struggle for safety, food and shelter, we take these basics for granted and become preoccupied with comforts and possessions others may never experience.

Most of us have basically healthy bodies, and both the time for spiritual practice and access to a tremendous wealth of spiritual teachings. Gratitude implies at minimum that we acknowledge this abundance, which frees us from the “if I only had this” mentality that permeates our culture. Even better, we can commit ourselves to making good use of these teachings to shift from a me-centered to a we-centered way of living and make our world a better place.

Being grateful for what we have does not imply that we stop pursuing goals. It means that we maintain a sense of contentment as we pursue them. If we cannot be at peace with what we have now, can we really expect to be at peace with what we may achieve later?

Perhaps the highest form of appreciation is not found in what we say, but in how we live. Whenever we sincerely pause to see the magnitude of all we’ve been given, we will not fail to humbly offer thanks, and let the fullness in our hearts spill out as service in some form. May we each, in some small way, respond to these blessings by making peace in our hearts and bringing peace to those around us.

About the Author:

Swami Ramananda is the president of the Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco and a greatly respected master teacher in the Integral Yoga tradition, who has been practicing Yoga for more than 35 years. He offers practical methods for integrating the timeless teachings and practices of Yoga into daily life. He leads beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level Yoga Teacher Training programs in San Francisco and a variety of programs in many locations in the United States, Europe, and South America. Swami Ramananda trains Yoga teachers to carry Yoga into corporate, hospital, and medical settings and has taught mind/body wellness programs in many places. He is a founding board member of the Yoga Alliance, a national registry that supports and promotes Yoga teachers as professionals.