I have adopted a more mindful gratitude practice over the past decade. I always thought of myself as a grateful person. However, once I began an intentional practice, I realized how much of my life I took for granted.
Simply being grateful for a new day to live life to the fullest is a great way to start the day. If it is raining, I give thanks for the ground being replenished. If it is sunny and warm, I find myself outside giving thanks for the warmth and nourishment of the sun. If I wake up to snow, even after a long winter, I give thanks for the beauty and purity of the white blanket. I thank God for my family, my friends, my clients, and anyone else who comes to mind. When I do this, my day is off to a good start. If I forget to do this simple practice, my whole day unfolds differently. I become more inward focused, not in a healthy way but instead focusing on my physical aches and pains. This quickly turns into worries and, I have to admit, then grumpiness creeps in. It amazes me how the mind can respond so differently to these practices.
I also end my day with a gratitude practice. As I lay my head on my pillow, I begin to recall all of the blessings that came my way. I usually drift off into a peaceful sleep. If I awaken during the middle of the night, I continue with my gratitude practice. Here again, if I forget this practice, sleep seems to be more disturbed.
Several years ago, while reading Growing the Positive Mind by William Larkin (Larkin, 2016), I chose to deepen my practice. In his book, Mr. Larkin suggests you pulse each of the higher vibrational emotions of love, joy, peace, hope, and gratitude. This practice is designed to help you notice how your body feels when you are connecting with a particular emotion. He suggests you stop and notice what changes occur within your body. To further your practice, he also suggests you find a song to correlate with the emotion. For gratitude, I searched YouTube and found a great song entitled “Grateful” by Nimo Patel. It became my go-to song whenever I needed a gratitude attitude adjustment. I also chose one of my beloved essential oils, Marjoram. Here is the message Marjoram brought forth:
As gratitude fills your heart, it will make room for unconditional love to be at the forefront. Marjoram will help you release unnecessary energies that may prevent you from truly experiencing a heart of gratitude.
This practice of gratitude has been instrumental in clearing out my old patterns of jealousy, judgment, worry, fear, and resentment … just to name a few. Larkin also recommends making a list of 50 things you are grateful for. I use this practice at the beginning of each year to help me stay focused on all of the blessings and gifts present in my life. Throughout the year, if I am having an “off” day, I will go back to my list and recall my bountiful blessings.
I encourage you to begin your own gratitude practice if you don’t already have one. It is great to have the visual list, too. Take the time to write a list of 50 things you are grateful for in your life right now, even if you are in a slump and can’t seem to think of anything. One of my students claimed she couldn’t think of 50 things she was grateful for, so I encouraged her to think about each one of her body parts as individuals to be thanked. For instance, be thankful for your mouth for giving you the opportunity to talk and eat, for your feet that hold you up when you stand, for your eyes that see your surroundings, etc. There is much we take for granted. Just recognizing and being grateful for our bodies could fill a page! Enjoy the process. I am grateful for you. I am also grateful you are taking the time to read this and develop your own gratitude practice.