Archive for December, 2014

In the United States, each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather for a day of feasting, football and family. The feasting consists of a gigantic turkey, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all sorts of other junk food. Once everyone is stuffed like a turkey the TV is switched on and the nation’s favorite sport takes command: football. And because you eat and watch TV and spend the day with your loved ones, Thanksgiving is considered as THE holiday in the U.S.

But allow me to backtrack here for a moment: the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly traced to the year 1621. Thus, way before the U.S. actually had become a nation state. In that year, the colonists in Plymouth, that’s in todays Massachusetts, invited the local Indians to an autumn feast, which was prompted by the first successful harvest.

While today’s Thanksgiving celebrations have very little in common with the way it was celebrated by the pilgrims – for example, neither the pumpkin nor the potato had yet been introduced to the New England of the 1620’s – one aspect though remains at the core of this tradition: Giving Thanks.

After the meal has been put on the table the family gathers around the table and a member of the family either speaks a short prayer or simply thanks the Lord for the food that has been provided. Among my family and friends, everyone then has an opportunity to give thanks for something that is dear to their heart. Be it that they are either grateful to be at the table on that day or that they found a new job or a new love or have overcome an illness.

This year is the first year for me in many, many years that I did not have a formal Thanksgiving. No turkey, no beer, and, thank God, no football. I wasn’t even in the U.S. I was in Vienna, Austria. I actually went to Bikram yoga. That’s a hot yoga routine I have been practicing for nearly 15 years.

While I was lying on the hard floor and pulling my right leg toward my chest with both hands, I realized that right then and there was THE most perfect opportunity to give thanks.
This realization had hit me because I was lying on the floor without the usual pain and stiffness in my body while pulling my leg toward me.

Not even 2 years ago I found myself in the hospital. A nasty virus had been doing its destructive work, gradually incapacitating me. After a chills and fever attack I went to the hospital to find out what was going on. The results were rather shocking: you are terribly sick, I was told by the cardiologist and that I was lucky to be alive. The virus had attacked my heart and my lungs. I had an inflamed heart and water in my heart sac as well as pneumonia and water in my lungs. To make matters worse, nothing the specialists did, made me get better. My condition actually got much worse so that I even ended up in the I.C.U.

Obviously I survived as otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tell you this story today. But being practically tied to my hospital bed for nearly a month while being pumped full of drugs my body literally stiffened up on me. My shoulders froze, and my neck and back hardened up. Not to mention that I hardly could even walk a 100 yards.

A strenuous, lengthy and painful time of recovery began. A time that is by far not over yet, I should add. Had I stuck with conventional medicine I might still not be able to move my body in a somewhat acceptable way. Instead, I launched into holistic medicine empowering my body to heal itself. My journey of recovery has taken me to TCM practitioners, as well as from acupuncture and acupressure to chiropractic sessions, has made me endure incredibly painful myofacsial release treatments, where the tissue that surrounds your muscles is cracked open with brutal pressure and force, to reflexology and osteopathy therapies. In between and during all of my therapies I have taken everything from Tibetan herbs to homeopathic supplements.

Lying on the floor in that Bikram studio in Vienna my roller-coaster ride of healing and getting myself back to where I was before the virus had hit me was rushing through my mind. And for the first time I consciously appreciated that my efforts were bearing fruit. Not only are my pain levels going down and my stiffness is receding but I actually can start thinking about jogging the way I used to and picturing myself back at the gym and rebuilding my muscle strength again.

As you can see, there is a ton of things that I am deeply grateful for. Thanksgiving or not, every minute of every day provides a perfect opportunity to simply give thanks and to be grateful, even for the smallest of things in one’s life.

Namaste!

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