Wishing you all a festive season filled with gratitude and contentment. Consider taking time over Christmas to notice some things and people you have been grateful for this year and to consider expressing your appreciation to those who have helped you in your life, whether personally or professionally. And perhaps experimenting with being specific in what you appreciate them for? I just wrote an email of thanks and gratitude to my web designer and photographer expressing in detail all the things I am grateful for and for having them as part of my support crew. I think it all the time but realised they will never know unless I tell them, so I did!
When starting to practice gratitude it can take a bit of time to get into a flow. You might find yourself trying to think of ‘big’ things, as I did, but the key is to open your eyes and start with the small things…..
A lovely way to start a gratitude ‘meditation’ practice is to call to mind something or someone that makes you happy and bring a smile to your face. You might smile with your mouth, or your eyes, and feel the change in your face muscles as you do. Then, smiling, take your awareness to your chest and your figurative ‘heart space’ inside you. Can you feel a sense of warmth in your heart? And maybe an openness across your chest? Just notice. [It might be ever so subtle, or you may notice nothing at all. Whatever you experience is perfectly fine. There’s no right or wrong experience; it is your experience at that moment.] Then take this warmth and openness, or the smile from your face, to fill your whole being…. Feeling a warm smile of contentment and ease. And sit with this sense for a moment. Feeling your body expanding with your inhalation and relaxing with your exhalation.
Then begin calling to mind things you are grateful for - you might start with a sense of appreciation for your body, for all that it does for you. [So often in life we focus on what we can’t do and our pain or limitations. This week and leading up to the new year, taking a moment to give thanks to your physical body for all that you can do.] Your legs, for allowing you to get around, your fingers, hands and arms for ease of ‘doing’ things, your organs for their functioning in keeping you alive, and your mind, for making sense of the world we live in and your human experience.
You might take a moment to be grateful for your breath and the opportunity it provides you with, to come in to the present moment. By taking a few conscious breaths, slowing the breath, a little, and in particular extending the outbreath, you can create moments of space in the day, time to stop worrying about the past, or the future, and be here and now, with the closest thing we have to the present moment – the breath; even if just for 10 seconds.
[Some people use the breath as their meditation for a lifetime. If you enjoy focusing on the breath this is a good one for you. If you find the breath to be boring or tedious as a meditation anchor, experiment with other points of focus – eg a body scan, or FOFBOC J Feet On Floor, Bottom on Chair – an easy way to come back in to your body and ground yourself.. out of your head and all the external stimulus we’re surrounded by and into your body, with a moment of inward focus.]
As I write this, I look around to see what I can find to be grateful for, in front of my eyes. I see a newspaper and am grateful to be informed and educated about current affairs, I see cook books on my coffee table and these remind me how grateful I am for the choice of food and opportunity to cook whatever I wish. I see the TV and am grateful we have this means of communication and entertainment and also grateful for the wisdom to know the right amount of time in front of this device, for me. I see blankets hanging up and am grateful for their warmth in the winter, and cushions surrounding me, grateful for a comfy seat. I see large glass doors and windows beside me and am grateful for the natural light shining into our living room. I see the clothes hanging on the line and am grateful for a back yard which is private and a place to hang our clothes to soak up some fresh air and vitamin D. I see my daughter laying on the couch beside me and am grateful to have her in my life to share so much joy, love and laughter and I give thanks for the medicines we have access to and the invention of insulin, to keep her alive.
I just received a text from my son, and this reminded me how grateful I am for his independence in making his own way home and the joy it gives me in watching my children grow up. I turn around and see the Christmas tree and give thanks that we have family to buy gifts for and the means to do so. I look up and see birthday cards ready to be packed away but for this moment, a reminder to me of how grateful I am for all the friends and family in my life. I am grateful for all my friends who so truly care and would do anything to help me in need.
I could go on and on as I look a little wider or reflect a little deeper. From the rug under my feet, to the comfortable shoes and clothing, to the refrigerator keeping my kombucha cool J
What are you grateful for today?
A short gratitude meditation is a lovely way to start or end the day. Simply bring your smile to your face, take a breath and start noting some things you are grateful for…. You may get a bit stuck at first but the more you do this and the smaller the things you notice, the more and more you will see.
In this final post for 2017, I also wish to give thanks and express my appreciation to my wonderful yoga and meditation students. Your commitment to take time to learn how to meditate or your commitment to come to yoga each week and stretch your body, calm your mind, and connect body, mind and Self is something I hope you take a moment to be grateful to yourself for. Your consistent demonstration of self-care through honouring yourself by showing up and continuing to practice, through stormy weather or blazing sun, is an inspiration to me and why I have chosen this yoga and meditation path for myself, and to share with others.
Any my final reflection for 2017 is ‘The more I practice gratitude and cultivate contentment, I’ve noticed I have less want for things and so much more appreciation for ordinary moments. I’ve become aware of how much more aware I am of what’s around me… whether it’s the freshly cut lawn, the new flowers blossoming as I walk down the street, or a smiley face as I make my way to the shopping village or beach.’ Gratitude is a truly transformational practice.
What have you noticed since practicing gratitude in your life?
Wishing you all a joyous festive season filled with love and gratitude.