I often tell my clients that it is important to deposit into their Gratitude Bank on a regular basis. Little comments like “Thank you for doing the dishes” and “Thanks for making the bed” actually go a long way. It is too easy in our daily routines to miss the little things we do for each other in partnership to keep our homes running smoothly. Sure, I know that even if I don’t say please and thank you, Elliot will do the dishes. But I also know that when I do say please and thank you he feels appreciated.
Small deposits in the gratitude bank can also look like “You look nice today” or “That shirt looks great on you” or “I can see how hard you are working these days”. Small acknowledgments that do not seem huge in the moment pay big dividends later on.
Just like we deposit money into our savings account, its important to regularly deposit into our emotional savings. It might not seem important now, but down the road it will matter. Down the road when we need to really pull out some of those resources it will be important. When our partner gets a job and we have to move, we will need those resources in the emotional bank account to help remember all the reasons of being together. When we argue or go through tough times we are withdrawing from our emotional reserves and Gratitude Bank accounts. So if we have not been depositing into it regularly, then when we find ourselves in a pickle, or shall I say it bluntly because don’t I always? When the shit hits the fan, we will be glad we said please and thank you, gave little gratitudes, appreciations and encouragements.
Of course I often think relationships are exactly like asana practice. In fact some of the greatest insights into my own relationships have come via my practice. The mat is the testing ground so to speak. In general I find that how people treat their mats, treat themselves on the mat and treat each other on the mat is exactly how they are behaving in every other circumstance in their lives.
I just spent four days doing some intense asana work with one of my most favorite teachers and people in general, Christina Sell. In our time together we spoke about how one approach we can take to working on the more challenging poses is to practice them like little deposits in our asana practice bank. We don’t have to expect to hit them every time we practice. We do not have to set up the perfect sequence and work to the apex challenge pose--which sets us up for elation when we hit it and devastation when we don’t.
Instead another approach is to touch in on these poses regularly. Not in an apex kind of way, but in a ‘Oh, here is this pose’ kind of way. Frankly I like the slight nonchalance of this approach that is actually not nonchalant at all. It has intense purpose actually. The idea is that if we put these asanas into our practice accounts regularly, then when we do the apex pose sequence strategy we may find our selves closer with less drama. There is also much to be had in the sense of making small deposits until the day we cash in and the pose comes. And in the meantime, no time is wasted. We still gain the benefit of practice. We are gaining strength, agility and dedication in and through committed practice.
It’s not like it costs me anything to say: “Thanks for making the bed honey”. If anything it costs me more when I notice the times he doesn’t make the bed and then grumble to myself “Argh! Doesn’t he know he should make the bed?!” That is like expecting a yoga teacher to know all the little nuances we like in our practice to get us into some pose. So if the teacher doesn’t put that pose in there for us, then we are left blaming the teacher or the sequence for us not getting the pose. In psychology we have a word for that; it’s called codependence. We also have a word for giving gratitude and appreciations to our partners; it’s called generosity.
I can tell you that since I started investing in this depositing gratitude practice with Elliot, I have found our times of conflict less severe, and more easily recoverable. On a similar note, I used to mainly practice the peak pose strategy. I got some poses. But I also got a little injured, sometimes blocked, and my practice in some ways felt draining rather than fulfilling. More and more (inspired by Christina) I have been working on sequences with repetition of strong fundamentals while then dabbling in a few harder poses into the sequences without some huge pomp and circumstance. So this weekend when I went into the fiery cauldron of intense group practice, I hit some poses pretty solidly I had not before.
Additionally it seems like this continued practice with harder poses consistently placed as regulars in the sequence, builds a kind of foundation in practice where when I get the pose its not happen stance or arbitrary. Because I have been building strength and flexibility all along the way as the secondary gains of my deposits in my asana bank, it’s not the sequence that gets me the pose. I get me the pose. I am big fan of making things less by chance and more predictable, especially in asana.
So it’s not the circumstances that make or break the argument. It’s all the other deposits I have made until that argument. Have I been consistently withdrawing or even over drafting emotionally? Or, have I been regularly depositing?
Strong balanced asana practice I am finding yields a similar stability physically, emotionally and energetically. I find my practice more grounded than ever, more ferocious than ever, and more whimsical than ever. I also find my relationship to be rewarding, loving and challenging. Elliot and I have had to withdraw a lot from our emotional savings this year being so far apart. But we have found ways to continue to deposit back in as well.
There will be times when our asana practice asks a lot of us—we will have to take huge withdrawals to get the challenging poses. Remember challenge in asana increases because the shape is asking us to be balanced in something unstable and flexible in something beyond our flexibility. Hmm, that sounds a lot like marriage and ongoing relationships to me.
The times get tough when our partners ask us to stretch far past what we think we can, could, or would. The times get tough when our foundations of stability decrease through space, lack of appreciation, illness, etc. So I think of the emotional deposits like supporting the foundation for when we need it. I think about repetition in practice as solidifying the foundation for the less stable poses—when I really need it.
And so it goes.