Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to affirm a lifestyle of generosity, openness, and empathy. Since I was a child, my mother has encouraged my family to write down thank you notes throughout November, which we place in a cornucopia and read together on Thanksgiving. Now that I’m a yoga practitioner and teacher, I’ve also come to celebrate such appreciation for life during what yoga calls the Three Daily Junctures.
Just as my mother taught my family to recognize life’s bounty on thank you notes, the yoga practice of the Three Daily Junctures instructs us to find gratitude in our heart each day at three specific times: early morning, midday, and before bed.
Yoga says that recognition is the key to cultivating a fulfilling life, and so we must dedicate three specific moments of our daily routine to nothing more, nothing less than gratitude and recognition. In doing so, we discover in our midst the secret to life itself: wholeheartedness.
When you wake up, yoga says you either can sleepwalk down the fork in the road of repetitive tasks just like yesterday, or you can become awakened to the fork in the road called recognition. Recognize your day is a series of choices and each choice matters. Just like you are what you eat, you are how you do.
If you mistakenly take the fork in the road of careless repetition, you really don’t care about the intent or the outcome of your actions. Your life becomes a set of fillers not actually fulfilling. However, yoga says that if your first action of the day is recognition, you will realize each action has a reaction called karma. Karma is a fruit that can either be tasty or horrendous. If your first action of the day is recognition, each reaction thereafter will be tasty and fulfilling, for you and for others!
You might be asking, “What again am I supposed to recognize?” By midday, you’ll know the answer! You will learn that a truly fulfilling life is not about judgment, it is about gratitude. Everything and everyone around you are not good or bad, friend or foe. Instead of thinking your way through the day, pronouncing judgments, and hardening your heart to those in your midst or isolating yourself with ‘your kind of people,’ recognize an open heart to all people and things make life richer.
Take a moment every day at midday to turn any false judgments into heartfelt gratitude. Each midday, steer your life back on track, from the head to the heart.
Maybe you wrote in a diary as a child, or maybe you still write in one. Just like a diary, yoga says the moments before bed are the time to make this very day memorable. It’s quite simple: if this day blends into the next one, indistinguishable, your life will lose its way. However, if you make it your heartfelt intent to recognize a memory or two before bed, many more will come your way.
Memories are what make life special. And, each and every day can be momentous. So, take care to remember this very day like forming a keepsake from a special occasion. Hold these memories near and dear to your heart, sleep well, and get ready for another bright-eyed morning!