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Finding Gratitude in Spite of it All

There is so much heartbreak and struggles in the world today, that sometimes I find it hard to be grateful for anything. The hate and misinformation being disseminated on tribal-driven TV and social media, inequities of wealth, racial injustice, angry people driving cars into family parades, masks and vaccines causing an ever greater divide between Americans.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been working hard to peel away the layers of suffering to find the gratitude that lies beneath the pain. Daily yoga, meditation, and mindful nature walks definitely help clear the clutter, fear, and negativity from my mind.

But nothing was more gratifying than the magic that happened last week when we were once again face-to-face with kids at Mansfield ISD's Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas (Watch video below). We offered to donate our services and teach some yoga classes there after we heard about a shooting on-campus back in October that injured two students and one teacher. We wanted to help the kids and staff heal from the trauma.

Just like so many others restricted from performing their work in-person due to COVID, we were prohibited from offering our Mindfulness in Motion student program at the schools. Don't get me wrong. I'm so grateful that we were able to continue the program virtually last Spring and serve upwards of 2000+ students in the Dallas Independent School District.

But seeing the eyes of those beautiful souls again as our Live Free Yoga Co-Founder, Tida Chambers, guided them through yoga, breathing, and calming practices reminded me of what I'm most grateful for - The fact that we get to guide our youth during this pivotal time in their lives to cultivate Strong Minds, Brave Hearts, Wise Bodies, and Noble Spirits for themselves, and for a better future for all. This is the greatest gift any of us could ever ask for.

The day after our visit to Timberview, I received a glowing text from the P.E. teacher who graciously took us up on our offer and opened his classes to us. It was short and sweet. He said (exclamation points included), "Thanks so much!!! You ladies are awesome! The kids loved it!!" This filled our hearts and souls beyond measure, and reminded us of why we do what we do.

Although we don't have control over the suffering that continues around us, I'm so grateful for my partners Tida, Robin Pusateri, and our amazing yoga teachers who share our passion and vision to contribute to the creation of thriving individuals and communities living in harmony and in service to others for the greater good.

From Live Free Yoga to you and your family...we hope this Thanksgiving finds you in gratitude for all the gifts you bring to the world.


Are your students in crisis? Unmotivated? Socially out of sorts due to COVID? Is your school staff burned out? We can help! Ask us about our Safe Haven Program: Trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness for at-risk youth, Mindfulness in Motion, our Professional Development workshops for educators, and our Lighter Being video/audio series for self-care.

Author, Phyllis Smith, is the Co-founder of Live Free Yoga, which provides yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and adults who serve them. She is also the co-creator of Lighter Being, a transformative mindfulness video series to help you find more balance, self-love, and a lighter state of being.

Photo by Kathy Tran


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