Dearest Ones,

Here I am, ensconced in the loving embrace of my family, just off the Chesapeake in Maryland. I am here to celebrate my very favourite holiday with some of my favourite people: Thanksgiving with my clan.

When contemplating what to share in this newsletter, I was rather intimidated. Indeed, what can I say about gratitude that has not been said before, and with greater eloquence? Further, this is the time of year – possibly the only time – when I completely let go, and relax. Around my family, I feel so fulfilled, and so at home, that I find it difficult to motivate myself to the space of practice and contemplation – the space where I spend the rest of the year and most of my time hanging out.

But I inadvertently set myself the task of entering into contemplation this year – I offered to teach a special family celebration Thanksgiving yoga class for my gang! So in fact, contemplation has been occurring, by virtue of necessity!

As an expat, living thousands of miles away from my very fun and loving clan, it is easy to forget where I come from. It is certainly easy for all of us to lose touch with that which we value most dearly. Not every ‘kula’, or community in which we participate accurately reflects our innermost values. I know that several members of our London Anusara kula struggle with relationships and work environments that are not in straightforward congruence with their yogic practices. Folks have shared with me how hard this is. And, aside from living in spiritual community, or never straying far from home, how do we work with these challenges in such a way that opens our hearts, rather than closing us down?

This is very poignant for me at the moment. Despite having spent many, many years in London, I have always presumed that I will come back to the East Coast at some point. I am keenly aware of the family events I missed this year due to distance and my London commitments. Yet, even after all these years, my life seems more permanent in London than it ever has done. And the community of my heart in London keeps growing! How can I stay present to all of it? How can I commit my time in such a way that I am not stung with regret when I reflect upon what I am missing? Earnestly, the situation often seems nothing more than an intractable problem to me. I love my family. And I am dedicated to my London kula, the kula of my private clientele, and my dear London loved ones.

As my new beau reminded me last night – what an amazing problem to have! The timbre of the thing completely shifts when I reflect on my good fortune. I am so full of gratitude to have so many beautiful and uplifting souls in my life. It sure hasn’t always been like this for me. And I note in myself the persistent habit of paying attention to what is supposedly wrong with the situation. This week, I am reflecting on allowing my deepest gratitude to be the ground of my experience.

I really don’t know how the dynamic tensions of my lifestyle will change and evolve through time. As my dear friend, teacher, and new mother Louisa North offered today, ‘No expectations – just see what happens next.’ When we stay that open to whatever is going on for us, and at the same time, offer blessings of thankfulness for the whole magical mess of our lives – then our challenges don’t seem so intractable. Whether it’s the trouble of living far way from family, or feeling sometimes disenchanted with our surroundings, we always have the opportunity to pay attention to the good stuff. Then we can enjoy the power and love of kula – and be uplifted by our circumstances. Grounded in gratitude, we can celebrate the best of our lives in communion with loved ones, wherever we find them. That is what I will share in my family Thanksgiving class on Friday!

In December, we have the magnificent Anja Bergh from Sweden joining me for a major Shakti Blowout just before the holidays. November was a short month with my travel schedule – so I have pimped out December’s Shakti Shop to include Saturday afternoon. Join Anja and I at Indaba on December 16 and 17 for Shakti Shop: Overflow of Joy – a Loving Investment for the Spend-Spend Season.

And see below for 2012 highlights – including a much-anticipated Anusara Immersion with amazing guest teachers!

Let me know how you are, guys. Please offer any stories of gratitude you may wish to share. I would love to start including student’s voices in my newsletter.

With Deepest Thankful Love,

Leila

And Happy Thanksgiving!