My daily practice reminds me how to keep choosing gratitude every time I become aware that I’m not appreciating my situation. I find there is a direct link between gratitude and happiness – a positive feedback loop. When I am stuck in my head, not being present, I find it easy to complain; however, when I practice the process of considering what I am grateful for in that moment, contentedness results.
It can be a challenge to find something you are grateful for when it seems your whole world is falling down around you. There are definitely situations that occur whereby you need to allow yourself to simply sink in and be inundated with emotion – it is healthy to do so – much healthier than trying to push the feelings away. Practice everyday with the small stuff so that when you hit that giant sink hole you can find the aspects of your life you are grateful for. You may even find, if you have done the practice, there is a reason to be grateful for the situation itself.
Gratitude a presence go hand in hand. When we stew on the past, it’s easy to find the faults in our actions or in someone else’s words; similarly, when we fantasise about the future, all sorts of preposterous things can arise. Neither are actually happening in that moment and so we are concerning ourselves with stories. The problem with this is, we tend to build a narrative around these stories, which becomes our very own warped reality. This is where our mind becomes so full that we collapse under the pressure, exhibiting all kinds of psychosis.
One of the most effective ways to become present is to notice the sensations of the body. As soon as your mind is observing sensation, you are not worrying about the past or future, which means you have achieved the elusive practice of meditation! So now you are here, in the present, say thank you for something – anything. Notice how that makes you feel.
In a study by McRaty and Childre (2004) it was discovered that by shifting one’s awareness from negative emotions to those of “appreciation” by focussing on the sensation of their own beating heart, a person is able to effect their own parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). This is achieved as the increased activity of the PSNS promotes coherance across a number of autonomic measures, which indicate cardiovascular health. This is just one example of the positive effects of gratitude.
SO, it’s really that simple. Making a habit of giving thanks for what you have is POWERFUL and will transform you on a physical level, as brand new pathways are created to accommodate your daily (or moment to moment) practice of gratitude!