Just because Thanksgiving is over doesn’t mean we have to stop being thankful for the many wonderful people and events which take place in our lives each day. Cultivating gratitude or thankfulness is a practice which never ends. It takes dedication and perseverance, paying off in great, unforeseeable ways (click here to read the 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude).
A byproduct of cultivating gratitude is presence. One may find it difficult to be truly thankful for something if they are not fully present to witness and experience the act. It is said that happiness occurs only in the present moment, right here, right now. This is the only real place. Day dreaming, running over past events, rehearsing future conversations, are all part of the virtual reality our mind creates to escape the present moment. These thoughts deepen the neural pathways which lead away from presence. By practicing thankfulness and deepening gratitude, one creates new neural pathways, which overtime, allow one’s mind to more naturally arrive in a thankful presence. Further deepening our mind’s tendency to arrive in this joyous moment.
The Practice- Gratitude
See Meditations Below
- Keep a Gratitude Journal
- What was the best part of your day?
- Who or what inspired you today?
- Who or what made your day better just because of their presence?
- Reflect on the points in which you were fully present through out the day. How did you feel before/ after?
- Write a thank you letter
- This could be to someone who profoundly impacted your life or a coworker who helped you solve a problem.
- Identify and incorporate
- What in your day to day life help you to be joyful, smile, or feel calm? Maybe a song, the way a co-worker greets you each morning, the smell of fresh coffee in the kitchen, a delicious dinner, or a loved one’s call. How can you incorporate more of this into your life?
The Practice- Presence
See Meditations Below
- Body scans
- This type of meditation alternates between a narrow and broad focus of awareness, usually beginning with the breath, then moving to different areas in the body. It is usually done lying down in a comfortable position- my favorite!
- 5 senses
- To do this type of meditation I recommend dedicating at least one minute to each sense. Begin by becoming aware of the breath (1 minute), move your awareness to sound (1 minute), smell, taste, touch, and sight. Close by bringing your awareness to all of your senses, becoming fully present and embodied in the moment.
- This meditation is easy to do anywhere and at any time. You can also extend the meditation by focusing your attention on the individual senses for 5 minutes at a time.
- Vipassana (Insight or Mindfulness):
- Vipassana means to see things as they truly are. In this practice one anchors in the present, and through this interconnection one is able to observe, or see clearly, the conditions of the mind, leading to awake awareness.
After beginning a gratitude or presence practice, one may notice how their true presence positively affects those around them. It is said that we are but mirrors, reflecting the attitudes and emotions of those by which we are surrounded. Our presence and gratitude support the presence and thankfulness of others, leading to a happier, more joyous world. I believe this is what each and every one of us is searching for, and ultimately trying to create. Before the holiday break, one of my kindergartners told me, ‘I wish for the world to have a happy heart’. I second that wish.
May you have a happy heart this holiday season, creating a more present, thankful world.
Awake Open-Hearted Awareness: https://www.tarabrach.com/meditation-awake-awareness/
Breath and Presence: https://www.tarabrach.com/meditation-breath-presence/
Body Scan: http://palousemindfulness.com/meditations/bodyscan.html
5 senses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdwnnKtPIBc