Being Thankful – Cultivating Gratitude with Mindfulness at the Holidays
Research shows gratitude improves health, helps you to feel more connected, decreases depression and increase your sense of wellbeing.
Mindfulness Meditation – Concentration, Awareness, with Compassion Mindfulness is awareness that arises by paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Mindfulness involves training in attention, awareness, concentration, and compassion.
Key aspects of mindfulness: Concentration the ability to stay focused on one object, one-pointedness. Awareness another way of knowing that is non-cognitive, experiential, in the present moment – now, not being caught-up in the future or in the past. The heart of mindfulness is a gentle, curious attention to whatever arises in mind and body. Just directly observing the sensations themselves, as the moment unfolds, with nothing added. This practice is done with Compassion – coming to know and understand yourself in a deeper, experiential way to relieve stress and other forms of suffering. Keep in mind, as with developing any art or skill, mindfulness requires practice and patience.
Mindfulness practice allows you to respond rather than react to stressful situations. Reactions are often automatic, unconscious, and habitual. Responses are conscious choices arising from mindfulness – perception, appraisal, awareness of what’s actually happening in the moment. This process results in not identifying as closely with our thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, which in-turn loosens attachment to them, allowing space for creative conscious choices.
Gratitude is …
Gratitude has to do with thankfulness that one feels toward another person situation, or an object. Often being grateful or thankful creates a sense of positivity that can lead to happiness. Some say that happiness is the experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. Gratitude is being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen in your life.
Robert Emmons, an expert on gratitude writes that gratitude has two elements. First, “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.” And secondly, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves.” For more on gratitude go to http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition.
Gratitude and Mindfulness
A key aspect of gratitude is paying attention, an innate ability developed through a mindfulness practice. Simply noticing the good things that we have received in life is the first step in experiencing gratitude. Mindfulness is also helpful when reflecting on things for which we are thankful. Being more fully present, rather than lost in thoughts of the past or future, allows us to be more grateful. Philip Moffitt, mindfulness teacher and author writes, “Cultivating thankfulness for being part of life, blossoms into a feeling of being blessed.” Mindfulness can be used to cultivate and deepen your sense of gratitude.
Cultivating Gratitude with Mindfulness There are many ways to cultivate and deepen gratitude. The invitation is to try some of these ways yourself:
- 1. Gratitude Journaling – keeping a journal of the things and experiences for which you have had gratitude. Studies suggest that entering in your gratitude journal three times per week is most effective.
- 2. Gratitude Letter – writing a letter to someone you are grateful for helps deepens your sense of gratitude, whether or not you deliver the letter.
- 3. Reflecting – reflecting on things for which you are grateful. You can have an open agenda including anything you are thankful for or narrowing your focus to certain categories. For example, reflecting on all of your friend’s and relative’s smiling faces. This is one of my favorites.
- 4. Substitution or Renunciation – Giving-up something in your life and exploring/investigating with awareness of your experience of giving it up.
- 5. Gratitude Meditation – See Jack Kornfield’s Meditation on Gratitude and Joy at https://www.jackkornfield.com/meditation-gratitude-joy/
Additional Free Mindfulness Offerings supported by the Loran Smith Center
Mindfulness Practice Evening is a Free Offering for the Community – that meets the second Friday of each month from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. These mindfulness meditation instruction sessions are free. Any level of experience is welcome. Free parking. The Dedicated Mindfulness Practitioners Group meets, each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction workshops and these mindfulness practice opportunities are held at the Healing Lodge, Loran Smith Center, Piedmont Athens Regional, 240 Talmadge Dr., Athens, GA 30606
Visit http://www.goamra.org the American Mindfulness Research Association
The Mindfulness Practice Evening is facilitated by Mike Healy, Ed.D., certified to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction by the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and is a certified Integral Hatha Yoga instructor, RYT 200. For more information on mindfulness or yoga classes, please contact: www.MindfuLiving.org, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-543-0162
Messenger by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy
dug-up clam, telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever.
[phoebe-fee/BE: type of insect eating bird, beetle, mythological titan, etc.; delphinium-del/fin/ium: flower]