When I was a young university student I feel in love with Henri Matisse’s Blue Nude. I was mesmerized by his use of “negative space” to define the nude figure for surely it is the white space which defines the blue. I thought wow, it is the empty space which shapes the whole. This was a new perspective for me I began to take into life. It is this thought today which led me to start my yoga class asking the students to consider “what are they not grateful for?” I could see their confused stares looking at me, “What do you mean not grateful?” Let’s look at gratitude a bit differently to gain a richer understanding of it. Begin by considering your health. How many of us take for granted being healthy? We just assume we can run, move and function until the day we can’t. I was never so grateful for my health till I heard I had thyroid cancer and was totally depleted. Then I began to to love all the days I felt well and energetic. Years later, healthy and alive, I am forever grateful for my health, to be able to take spin classes, yoga classes, to play with my children. How about money? we often take for granted that we can buy food, pay rent. and make purchases. How about the moment you lose your job, or your business closes? We could not function in today’s world without a certain amount of money. Give thanks for your bank account, it gives you a certain freedom to do take pleasure in your life without the struggle for survival. Let’s not forget our loved ones. How many of us take for granted the people we share our lives with, families, roommates, dear friends? How we would miss them if life took an unfortunate turn and we no longer had them with us. I know this is in the realm of morbid, but truly can you say you have told that someone special how much you love them lately? Do it today, one thing is for sure we do not know what tomorrow brings. When we take a moment to examine what our lives would be without good health, enough money and our loved ones, we sink into the space artist refer to as negative space. You can look at a Matisse’s Blue Nude and look not at the blue image which is obviously full and beautiful but to the white space in between the object which creates and defines the image. This examination of the space in between, is where gratitude lays dormant but lives steady waiting to reveal itself. Breathe in the empty to fill with gratitude for a blessed life.

Matisse’s use of Negative Space: A lesson in Gratitude