“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie, Author
Albert Einstein said, ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.’
The practice of gratitude is a practice of becoming present to the miracles in your life. I know it’s extremely difficult to recognize a miracle when you have a screaming child on your hip, horrendous nausea from another one on the way, errands to run, dinner to cook, a full inbox to get through, a work deadline to meet, a to-do list that seems insurmountable all while battling utter fatigue and exhaustion. So how do we shift our mindset to be grateful amidst the chaos and struggle perhaps even for it?
Well, the practice of gratitude is exactly that, a practice. If you’re not inclined to be grateful for the hardships and stress, you’re in good company, most of us have a hard time with that. Gratitude for challenges usually comes after we’re on the other side of them. But we can get on the other side quickly by training ourselves to have an attitude of gratitude on a daily basis that can soften the struggles and sweeten the stress and quite literally make your whole life better.
Science proves that cultivating a growing sense of gratitude can improve your health, career, emotional well-being, personality and social life. How you might ask. Well, when we start acknowledging all we have to be grateful for, it trains our brain to pay attention to all the positives in our life, to recognize all that is working in our life as opposed to what isn’t. This has a dominos affect, all the sudden we become increasingly aware of how blessed and abundant our lives really are. When we come to that understanding, we become infinitely more happy. When we are happy we are more energetic, productive, relaxed, resilient, optimistic, compassionate, considerate and in general overall more functional.
Happiness and gratitude are in direct relation to one another, you could even say that they are interchangeable words. The more grateful we become the more happy/content we are. Contentment is being grateful for what is, not yearning or longing for what is not, or what you want to be. It is deep acceptance of your path, your circumstances, your relationships and yourself. A gratitude practice can enable you to recognize that your world is good enough for you to be happy right here, right now, it’s just a matter of where you are placing your attention. If you always focus on what isn’t working in any given circumstance or situation or relationship, shift to focus to what is working and be grateful for that. There’s an old yoga saying, “Where the attention goes the prana (energy) flows.” Whatever you are focusing on is what you are giving your energy to and where the energy goes, that very thing grows. The more you focus on the blessings in your life, the more blessings appear. Conversely, if you only focus on the struggle and stress, you’re going to get more of the same.
So here’s a gratitude mediation that personally makes me stay on the right side of happiness as it completely helps me stay present to the great good fortune and opportunities in my life.
If you can even take five minutes out of your day for this it can change your whole day and ultimately and inevitably, your whole life!
You can practice upon waking and/or before going to bed or anytime.
*Find a comfortable seat.
*Allow yourself a few moments to settle into your seat.
*Open up to the moment by simply noticing what is, getting into a space of non-judgmental present moment awareness, taking in information with your senses, listening to sounds and experiencing sensations without labeling things as good or bad, just noticing what you notice.
*When you feel more present and grounded begin to pay attention to your breath.
*Following the breath in and out of the body for a few rounds to center the attention on the breath.
*As you pay attention to the breath, start to allow a feeling of gratitude to enter in as you acknowledge the great gift of your sacred life-giving breath. Acknowledge the grace of each breath and for a moment recognize that life is truly so simple, living is breathing, breathing is living.
*When you feel as though you’ve honored your breath enough with your gratitude, allow your mind to focus on the miracle of your working body and working mind to be able to sit and have a gratitude practice. With everything you acknowledge as being grateful for say to yourself “Thank you for…” and really allow a deep sense of gratitude to fill every cell of your body so much so that gratitude becomes you.
This practice is not revolutionary, it’s literally acknowledging all the small miracles that make up the miraculous life you actually lead, taking nothing for granted, the fact that you even woke up today, a miracle!
*When you feel you’ve acknowledged the gift of your own life enough, and it is a gift, start to acknowledge the people in your life. As you allow each person to enter into your mind welcome in a deep sense of love and gratitude as you focus on what they have brought and bring to your life, past and present. Thanking them for the love, support, lessons and joy that they bring you.
*When you feel complete with this allow your mind to start to ponder and fill with appreciation for all the bare essentials, a roof over your head, clean drinking water, a toilet that flushes (most days), food to eat, clean air, trees, flower, vegetables, nature, a place to lay your head at night, warm clothing, employment, and on it goes.
*The meditation will often be the similar up to this point, for the last part, acknowledge the small miracles of the day, the weather is gorgeous today, your daughter is sick but the doctor made time to see her, your son cleaned his room without you asking, you were able to get out and go for a run, you beat the rush-hour traffic or you got stuck in traffic but you made it home safe, your partner brought dinner in, you had a good hair day, nothing is too small to acknowledge and be grateful for.
*When you feel complete in the practice or if you’re short on time, when time is up, take a deep breath in through the nose and fill yourself with all the love, peace and joy that this gratefulness brings and as you exhale, breathe out any remaining stress, worry, frustration, doubt, anger or tension. Do this until you feel calm, clear and filled to the brim with gratitude!…And repeat.
Written by Danielle Tafeen Karuna
As a former certified fitness trainer, Danielle Tafeen Karuna has always been interested in movement and the human body’s capabilities. Danielle is an 800+ hour certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher & a Lululemon Ambassador with a goal to share the gift of yoga and wellness with as many people as possible. Provita is the embodiment of this belief in the transformational and healing power of yoga, fitness, and wellness.