The year 2017 has been seeing many challenges and disasters, natural as well as man-made. Just a single thought about the unfortunate victims of such tragedies is enough to get into the state of gratefulness. I was helping some of the victims affected by Vegas Shooting that happened in October. The very fact that I could have been one of those but I am not and I am still taking this breath brings a thought, “Thank God….!!!”
Gratitude actually helps YOU way more than the person you feel gratitude towards. When you feel thankful and content in your own life and your own experiences, then you will find that you are very fortunate, and you want very less to live a happy life.
Moreover, studies show that gratitude is very important for our health and well-being. Counting your blessings and giving thanks regularly may lead to increased and sustained happiness, a stronger immune system, increased energy and creativity, improved quality of sleep, a deeper feeling of connection with others, and more.
The season of gratitude and giving is in the air. Although gratitude can be practiced all year long, this season brings many reasons for gratitude, from #thanksgiving and #givingtuesday to Christmas, the season is all about gifting, giving and celebrations. Putting a little gratitude in your daily life is a first-step to achieving many of your hopes, your dreams, and your goals.
There are many ways of expressing gratitude, and it can be as simple as:
- Giving hugs
- Smiling at others
- Offering genuine compliments
- Being an active and sincere listener
- Writing a thank you note to a friend or loved one
- Doing random acts of kindness
- Volunteering for a community project
- Offering to do a chore, errand or unpleasant task
- Being prayerful
Regardless of how you express it, practicing gratitude can help you drop victim or blame consciousness and gain a fresh perspective. It reminds you of the positive things in your life and broadens your attention to everybody’s well-being. Personally, when I feel grateful I feel blessed, enriched, nourished, and more appreciative of others around me.
“When we see that in our life, we have received far more than what we deserve or are capable of, then gratitude dawns in us. We become thankful, complaints disappear and abundance grows. A person who is grateful never experiences lack of anything. When gratitude in you stays, that very gratitude flows out of you as grace.” says my Yoga teacher, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
While there are a number of ways to make sure you’re giving thanks every day, your yoga practice is another great way to cultivate gratitude daily.
Gratitude is a habit and a gesture of the heart. Doing your yoga practice with grateful state of heart will bring completely different outcome to your practice. I have experienced certain poses help kindle the spirit of gratitude, but the poses you choose to practice doesn’t matter much as much as state of your heart. Just adding the element of gratitude, will revolutionize your practice and transform your life.
Here are a few ways that you can incorporate gratitude in your yoga practice:
- Set your intention to appreciate every moment, every breath and every movement. Gratitude is about appreciating every minute of your life, savoring the air in your lungs, the healing stretch that you feel in your muscles, the strength that you feel in your joints, the vibrations you feel in your body when you chant, the softness you feel in your heart, or the bliss that you feel when you meditate. Yoga makes your body secrete endorphins, with a rush of adrenaline that boosts your health and happiness, and thus yoga naturally boosts gratitude.
- Make your movements an offering. Whenever I bring my hands together at my heart in Anjali Mudra (Namaste) at the beginning and ending of a Sun Salute, it spreads the feeling of gratitude towards the sun and life in general throughout my practice.
- Count your blessings with every breath. It’s nearly impossible to do this for an entire practice session, but just being aware of this for a few minutes will give your practice a complete turnaround. I like to inhale the essence of the blessing and exhale all limitations keeping me from experiencing the blessing in every area of my life.
- Focus on the positive. It’s easy to get disappointed and grumble about what you perceive as your shortcomings on the mat–maybe you’re not as flexible or not as strong, or an injury is inhibiting movement. Make a commitment to use your yoga practice to observe all the amazing things you CAN do instead. You will see that gratitude will spill over into other areas of your life as well.
- Smile when the pose gets challenging. Generally we tend to make our face tight when we do a difficult pose or experience some pain. Consciously decide to smile instead. Slowly you will see that you are smiling more easily and often through your day.
- Express your gratitude towards your yoga teacher, your family, and everyone including yourself who made this yoga session and experience possible for you. This will help to be cultivate appreciation for everyone around you in your life.
Celebrate gratitude for a month, for a year, for a life time
Studies prove that giving thanks can make you happier, and gratitude increases a sense of well-being by 10%. Try it and find out for yourself!
Starting from Thanksgiving Day, maintain a Gratitude Journal. Every morning, start your day with a simple gratitude meditation about 3-10 things you are grateful for, both big and small. Simply jotting down the little moments of grace that comes effortlessly in your life will make your whole day rewarding and happier. It will change your energy for the day.
Make the whole month about giving thanks, not just Thanksgiving Day. And you will see that gratitude will become your lifetime habit. It is so amazing to experience how small blessings cultivate a state of abundance, love and joy.
Enjoy Thanksgiving with your family!
Let that gratitude transform in giving back on Giving Tuesday and enjoy the Giver’s Glow or Helper’s High!
Happy #Thanksgiving and #GivingTuesday!