[Hooping.org columnist Shannon Herrington celebrates giving thanks.]
The seasons are changing, the year is almost over and Thanksgiving Day has arrived here in the United States. As people are preparing to give thanks for everything in their lives, I am reminded that Thanksgiving originated from a mix of European and Native traditions. Typically in Europe, festivals were held before and after the harvest cycles to give thanks for a good harvest, and to rejoice together after much hard work with the rest of the community. At that time as well, Native Americans celebrated their end of a harvest season. Thanksgiving should be a time of gratitude, but being thankful isn’t something that comes easily for all of us, especially if you struggle with seasonal depression.
While many people today use the hoop to meditate, can’t we use the hoop to become more grateful? After all, gratitude is a very important thing for us human beings. Many people swear that starting a gratitude practice has changed their lives. Gratitude can help turn bad things into good things. How can we instill greater gratitude into our hooping? The next time you are hooping take a few minutes to reflect inside of the spin of your hoop. Think about what you have to be thankful for in your life. You might also find it helpful to remember the following:
- Physical Reminders: Gratitude can be cultivated through any expression of art. Make a special hoop that you can use to meditate on what you are grateful for in your life. This is your gratitude hoop and by spending time in it you are taking time to be more aware of gratitude itself. Even if you see it leaning against the wall, it may spark you to dwell on the things you are thankful for at the moment. This isn’t a time to pull fancy tricks or to learn new ones. Even a few moments alone with your hoop can change your life outside of the hoop. Making this a daily habit will make gratitude integral in your life.
- Say Thank You: If someone compliments you, thank them. Even if you don’t believe what they are saying, thank them anyways. They wouldn’t be offering you praise if they didn’t believe it. In a workshop I took with Caroleeena, she came to each one of us with a compliment and we had to thank her for the compliment. Being thankful for some of us isn’t our immediate first reaction. By being thankful we become more grateful, and we can get used to hearing more compliments on our hooping in the future. If you continue on your hooping journey even “simple” things will awe others and you’ll be complimented many times. So ban the words, “I’m not that good though” from your vocabulary.
- Focus On What You Can Do: Sometimes we get focused on all the hoop moves we can’t grasp at the moment and forget all that we can do. If this is affecting your hoop practice, start being thankful for what you already know. Be thankful for the gift of waist hooping, even if some flamingo bunny hop hoop toss is not feasible for your body at this moment in your practice. Even if you can’t do this small thing, be grateful that you even have this challenge. If every trick was easy to learn, would you appreciate hooping as much? This is an opportunity to learn and to grow as a hooper. This is a time to reclaim your body and make yourself stronger. Trying to learn this new move may give you five new ways to save this trick when it goes awry to keep your flow going smoothly. Don’t let any new movement bring your practice and spirit down.
- Praise Your Teachers: Sometimes it’s hard to learn everything on your own and you may need help. Make sure to thank anyone who has helped you learn or grow as a hooper. If you take their workshop or watch their youtube channel take the time to thank them or leave a comment. This is especially important when you are at spin jams and events because these people are taking time out of their schedule to help the hooping community in your area. Sometimes facilitating hoop happenings can be very frustrating and every little bit of thanks can make it worth it. Make sure that everyone that has ever helped your hooping practice grow knows that they have helped someone.
Certain illnesses like depression attack our ability to be optimistic. While the holidays are a time of joy for many, they can leave some of us feeling on the outside looking in. Gratitude has been considered the “forgotten factor” when considering happiness. People have better health and mental alertness due to being grateful. Some studies have shown that more people will respond to you when you are living thankful. People that are grateful tend have a greater sense of purpose in their lives, appreciate the people around them, and have a willingness to take action to show their gratitude. And gratitude doesn’t have to be religious. Being thankful for breathing every day transcends all spiritual beliefs.
Times can be hard for everyone. The more appreciation we have for the little things, the better the world will be. Even if you think you have nothing to be thankful for, there are numerous things. What about hooping? What exactly are you grateful about in your hoop? The feel of the hoop as it glides over your chest? The feeling of the hoop as it floats in the air around you and the comforting feeling as you grip the inside of that circle? What about the people you have met and will meet because of the hoop? The people that might want to help you bring hooping to your community even though they do not hoop? There are times when I catch something in midair and I think, “I’m pretty sure if I didn’t learn tosses with my hoop, I wouldn’t have caught that. Thanks, hooping!”
Gratitude doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to bring awareness on the great things in life, even if they are little. Concentrating on the small things you can be grateful for can help you feel more gratitude for that one situation.
So grab your hoop this Thanksgiving Day and infuse a little extra thanks into your world. The hoop is an amazing instrument to facilitate self-improvement and gratitude can help your relationship not only with yourself, but with other people. And you might just come to realize that you have a little bit more to offer everyone than you thought.