As I experienced the magic of Mama India for the first time, this was when it was brought to my attention how much I, as a Westerner, apologised for absolutely everything - and at the same time absolutely nothing at all. By this, I mean accidentally bumping into someone, or feeling as though you’re expressing yourself a little ‘too much’, or thinking you’re somehow ‘in the way’. “Oops! Sorry. My bad”. My Indian companion pointed this behaviour out and told me off in good spirits. Many of us do it (apparently British people more than most) and it’s one of those tendencies that has ingrained itself into us through conditioning of our societies. What exactly are we apologising for? Our existence? Time we changed this tune!
The answer is so very beautifully simple. Every time you catch yourself saying sorry, transmute it to a thank you. A little story as example: the other morning, I went for a swim in the Lake. Sometimes, usually with the sea, I have fear that arises of deep open water - that old fear of the unknown. As I swam into the darkness of the shimmering Lake, I allowed myself to be as silly and scared as I was. I decided to fully surrender into that feeling. Exactly as I did so, of course I got caught in some furry underwater plants that entwined themselves with my legs. I had a moment of brief panic before I laughed at myself for them merely saying hello, then gently let myself be released from their soft grasp. I found myself saying “Sorry for being so scared!”. Then I realised my attitude and flipped it to gratitude: “Thank you for allowing me to feel fear; it reminds me to be humble of life”. I floated around in a little blissful bubble of humble pie for a while afterwards.
The majority of cultures around the world live their life through thanks - really taking the time, energy and enjoyment for the acknowledgement of this blessing of life. It seems we’ve lost our way somewhat. I learnt recently that the Hawaiian saying of Ho’oponono ‘I’m sorry; Please forgive me; Thank you; I love you’, used to only be ‘Thank you, I love you’, before we began destroying our home, this Earth. Giving thanks is natural and indeed needed. We as Westerners can probably most likely relate this to prayers before eating, perhaps in a religious concept, which it need not be. Simply to remember with true respect allows us to keep it all sacred.
And so, another life-changing ritual I can vouch for to bring back thanks is listing things you are grateful for as the first thing you do when you wake up or as the last thing before you go to sleep at night… either by writing things down, speaking to yourself in the mirror or rhyming them off in your head. Putting yourself into this mindframe of being grateful for all the things you already have is really such a powerful process. It places one in such a state of happy realisation, allowing truthful perception of the beauty in all things as you go about the day, in each and every moment. Getting into this habit makes everything really just that much sweeter! I often find myself laughing or sighing with contentment along with it. Expressing thanks is purely profound.
On which note, thank you for taking time to read these words.
Most of all, thank you for existing in this wonderful world.