Teacher Training Student Diary
Week 1 : GRATITUDE
Gratitude is often a practice that we don’t engage in. It’s a foreign concept to those of us in “first world” countries, something we consider a nice idea but an unrealistic mindset. We’re conditioned to pay attention to things that are going wrong in our lives rather than the things that are going right because that’s how companies sell us products. “Buy this and your life will get better!” The crazy thing about this is no matter how many things you accumulate the same feeling persists. You may find some temporary relief with the excitement of purchasing something new but eventually this will wear off and the feeling of something missing will return. I was exactly like this until very recently when I began practicing gratitude. For every “I want / need this” thought I take a moment to say “I am grateful for insert amazing thing in my life here”. It’s incredibly amazing how your outlook on life changes even after just a few days of doing this!
In the last week I’ve really been focusing on the practice of Gratitude through my YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) at Vikasa in Koh Samui, Thailand. Today marks exactly one week into my training and the amount of gratitude I feel has exploded. Just in one week I’ve experienced so many amazing things it was hard to pick which moments to share!
My first moment of gratitude came last Sunday morning. I woke up at 5:40 am which was unusual for me. I’ve always been a night owl but the combination of jet lag and excitement had kicked me out of bed. So I decided to head down to the little infinity pool for a morning swim. I was rewarded with one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. The sky turned into a kaleidoscope of oranges, pinks and purples, reflecting in the pool like a mirror of another dimension. I thought “How lucky I am to start my day with something so beautiful!” I took a deep breath in and felt gratitude flood my heart.
That same morning, I got another gratitude treat as I was preparing for class. It was the first day of training for the YTT200 hour certification and it felt a lot like the first day of school. I was about to begin a very serious commitment to transformation with 35 other students and several teachers, all of whom I’d be meeting that day. I was incredibly nervous. I knew this process was going to be tough. We’d all be pushing ourselves to grow, to learn, to dig deep and be better versions of ourselves but for me, it’ll also be a process of letting go and going with the flow. I knew that I was going to have to be vulnerable in front of all these new faces and I felt incredibly anxious. But then I looked out the window of my yoga cave. The room has an incredibly beautiful view of the ocean. I took a deep breath and my anxiety melted away as I took in the beautiful nature I get to wake up to every single day for the next four weeks.
Over the past several day’s experiences like this have been plentiful and each one has given me even more to be grateful for. Some experiences have been big breakthroughs for me, such as my Kapalabhati practice on day two when something truly amazing happened. As I suspended my breath my entire body began to tingle. Then the tingling intensified accompanied by a reverberating of sound in my ears. The birds outside sounded like they were from another planet. It felt like I was floating in outer space. After a few moments I slowly returned to earth. I was completely blown away. This had never happened to me before. The amount of gratitude I felt for having had this development in my practice was (and still is) massive!
Another moment of growth happened in our Group Dynamics class on Thursday. We were working with our Sacral Chakra which is connected to our emotional body. The practice involved envisioning our 5-year-old self and what they are feeling. This brought up some old emotional trauma that I had grown numb to and almost locked out of mind. This simple practice unleashed a flood of emotions related to this. Tears begin to pour down my face. What was surprising to me about this out burst of feelings is the fact that I wasn’t embarrassed. I wasn’t ashamed that I was in the middle of class crying my eyes out in front of my classmates and teacher. It actually felt good to get it out. Releasing that pent up emotion left me feeling lighter because I had finally let go of something I had carried with me for so long.
I’ve also grown to appreciate the smaller moments in my daily life that I hadn’t noticed before. I’ve learned to really love eating healthy food thanks to the delicious meals that we get to enjoy every day while here at Vikasa. My favorite things to enjoy is a cup of coffee with fresh pressed coconut milk in the morning (the coconut milk creates a delicious creamy layer on top that’s similar in consistency to a latte) and the nights when they serve mango sticky rice for desert (my favorite Thai sweet treat!). There’s also a fridge filled with vegan, guilt free treats that are to die for!
I’ve learned to appreciate the sights and sounds and smells I encounter each day. The sound of the ocean waves coming into the Sala while we are in practice. The smell of the fresh air and the beautiful little flowers that fall from the trees near the pool (each day I pick up a blossom and put it in my hair as I thank the tree). The sight of the little clouds of colorful butterflies that chase each other all over this beautiful place. The feeling of the water and sunshine on my skin as I swim in the pool before class. So often we forget to give gratitude for the senses that allow us to experience this world.
Our daily practices are challenging but incredibly insightful. I’ve learned so much in a short period of time. With each practice I’ve grown in so many ways. In physical strength, in my ability to be mindful and in the way my spiritual self comes through. Kosta is a great teacher. He has so much knowledge and life experience and that comes through in every lesson he teaches. One of the greatest things he taught us was a meditation that he calls “Infinite Being”. This practice involves manifesting all the infinite ways we are wealthy in this life such as stating “I am infinitely healthy” or “I am infinitely happy”. This is followed by practicing gratitude by thinking of the previous day and choosing 10 – 15 things we are grateful to have. I was able to list far more than 15. Next we practice forgiveness. We think of the previous day and forgive anyone who may have upset us as well as ourselves for any mistakes we may have made. The final step is to imagine ourselves as we wish to be. Healthy, happy, doing the things we love with the people we love. We manifest our true selves then let the manifestation go out into the universe. I imagined mine as a beautiful butterfly flying away from the Sala and out into space where the universe could see it.
One week later and all my nervousness and anxiety surrounding the course has melted away. Every single person doing this training with me has a beautiful soul. Each of us has our own stories and struggles and experiences that have lead us down this path and to this training. We all have different reasons for being here. And we are all in this together. Already so many wonderful memories have been created. The more I practice gratitude the more things come into my life to be grateful for.
About the Author:
Brooke Kathleen - Also known as the Unicorn Yogi, Brooke began practicing yoga in 2009. She moved to New York City for work in 2013 and her practice faded out due to the inconsistent hours. In 2017 she re-discovered her practice during a very intense and difficult series of events. After devoting herself to practice for another year she realized that she wanted to learn how to share the tools that yoga had given her to heal and grow with others. She found Vikasa online while researching and fell in love with the curriculum and location. The rest is history!
New York, USA