Grow with Gratitude
By: Nikki Kerth, Yoga Teacher & Dallas Yoga Magazine Advertising Representative
Above Photo: Nikki Kerth meditating
Human life is full of suffering. In this suffering, life has taught me to cultivate an understanding and a practice of gratitude. This is a daily practice for me, as my life has not always been ‘peaches and cream’. I have, like you, been through some @#$%.
Merriam-Webster’s primary and secondary definitions of “Suffering” are: “The state or experience of one that suffers” and, simply, “Pain” respectively. To be fair, it is natural for us to get caught up in our own little dramas. These little dramas can be anything from spilling coffee on our favorite shirt, not being promoted at our job after working all those long hours, or perhaps running late to pick up the kids from school because we lost track of time and are stuck in the carpool lane. These little dramas are simply a part of life, and yes – by definition are “suffering”.
When we are concerned for our own temporary suffering, we can turn this into gratitude. For every instance of an unprecedented coffee stain on your freshly dry-cleaned shirt and every carpool lane that impeded the start to your morning, there are the positive outcomes of each event — The important conversation with your dry cleaner and their spouse about their day, or your child’s favorite teacher who may think the world of your child as well. My point is: these moments matter. You can never get them back. If we are mindful in every moment, and we choose to be present, then we will learn to appreciate and be grateful for each and every one.
The reason why I believe most of us suffer is because we are misguided by our own ignorance (The basic Merriam-Webster’s definition being “Lack of knowledge, education, or awareness”). As humans, we are rightfully attached to these things. We label them as good or bad – potentially and overtly positive or negative. We cling so deeply to material things, relationships, and our annual income. We also cling to other minutiae: The friend that was not there; the child that did not listen; and the spouse that was wrong. The list goes on and on.
As soon as we realize that impermanence in life is the only thing that is real, everything else fades away. We are in this continuous cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.
For me, it took the loss of my best friend to understand this fully. My friend was in a permanent state of suffering that he couldn’t see the impermanence of, so he took his own life. This was regardless of what his friends and family did to support him.
Here is what will never change:
My friend’s name was Jackson. His life was important. His life means something. His life meant something. He will never leave my love. He will never leave my thoughts. He will never leave my life.
When someone is sad for a moment—depressed for an instant – or unsure for an entire lifetime – that person matters. They have a mother and father. They have friends. They often have children.
Though I did not have the answers then, I also do not have them now. What I do know, is that I will never forget my friend. That is my “suffering”, and I encourage you to embrace yours – no matter what your definition, and no matter what your “pain”.
The experience of losing my best friend has made me grateful — Grateful for each day, sunrise, sunset, and every moment of my life. My only advice is to be always grateful of the people and experiences you have in your life. You will never know when the moment will become a memory.
If you are depressed, feeling down or going through hard times please reach out for help to your family or friends who can assist you in finding professional guidance. Pain is temporary so don’t choose a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Help is available…just ask.
BIO ON THE AUTHOR:
Nikki stumbled into yoga by accident. Once, she got a taste of it, she instantly wanted more. Nikki received her first teacher certification through YogaFit in 2004 and over the years has attended trainings and workshops taught by a number of amazing Yoga Teachers. Nikki has taught many styles, from Beginner yoga to Power yoga and everything in between. Pattabhi Jois said, “Practice and all is coming.” Nikki shares “I am a student of yoga first and a teacher Second. What I have learned through my personal practice is Gratitude, Kindness, Courage, and compassion. Gratitude for having the ability to move my body every day. Kindness to myself, especially on the days that I don’t feel 100%. Courage to get back on my mat after pulling a hamstring or injuring my neck. Compassion because whether it’s a physical injury or a mentally exhausting week, at the end of the day all that matters is that I showed up on my mat.
I encourage the students who come into my class to do the same, while continuing to grow and explore their practice.”