Gratitude cultivates contentment

Our weekly yoga class focus…. the 2nd Niyama ‘Santosha’ which translates to Contentment. We practice gratitude to cultivate contentment… and my experience is contentment is a much more sustainable ‘sense’ than happiness which we often seek ‘outside’ of ourselves (think new this and new that) and can be fleeting in its nature.


When we practice gratitude we acknowledge what we already have in our life, and who we already are. Reflecting on what you’re grateful for each day trains the brain to look for the positive; to scan for the good things in life and helps you see possibilities rather than issues. 

You can ‘book end’ your day with this simple gratitude practice – as you lie in bed, reflect on 3 good things that happened during your day and just as importantly, why you’re grateful for them. Be specific. Think about what made you laugh, or smile; when you felt a sense of accomplishment or connected with someone. It can be really small. Eg I’m grateful I decided to leave work on time today and spent time with my friend/partner/kids; I’m grateful I was able to meet with John today as we progressed the work issue and we are now on the same page; I’m grateful to have been in the kitchen at the same time as my partner/kids today as this was the only time we saw each other, and sharing the space helps me feel connected with them; I’m grateful for taking a walk around the block at lunchtime as the sun was shining and I felt more positive when I got back to my work.

Do this each day, with 3 new things to be grateful for. The ‘what’ comes from the head and the ‘why’ comes from the heart. When you practice this way, allowing a moment for the ‘why’ to register in your body, you are changing the neural pathways in your brain; firing the thought and feeling of the ‘gratitude pathway’ to become more ‘well trodden’ and slowly over-ride the default negativity bias pathway.

Various studies have shown that people who are consistently grateful have more energy, are more emotionally intelligent, can forgive more easily and are less likely to be depressed, anxious or lonely. Gratitude trains people to be more optimistic, and to feel more socially connected. It’s also been shown to help with sleep issues.

 

With practice you’ll become more skilled at noticing and focussing on possibilities and the annoyances and frustrations that loom in the background will be less bothersome.

The better you get at scanning (which comes with practice), the more good things you will see, without even trying. You might even catch yourself stopping to smell the roses!

Along with classical yoga classes, for which this is our weekly focus, we offer: