Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Roots of Gratitude Part I

The ability to draw our attention to that in our lives for which we are grateful is a skill that truly must be sharpened through practice. We must take the time to reflect and bring the energy of gratitude towards the people, places, things, events and achievements in our lives that we appreciate most dearly.  It is possible, with the myriad of daily stresses, logistics, emotions and anxieties in our lives, that we can begin to focus on the negative or feel that we are lacking. But with practice and reminders, our focus on gratitude for what we do have can bring a sense of joy and lightness into our lives. With a heart filled with gratitude, coming face to face with all of life's difficulties can become that much easier.

Often with a Gratitude Practice, we focus outside of ourselves. We may practice being grateful for family, friends, pets, material objects, etc. Or we may be grateful for experiences or major life events. This is a fundamental part of practicing gratitude and an important place to begin. Today, through a simple guided meditation, I challenged my students in yoga class to bring their practice of gratitude towards their own bodies, minds and souls. It can be very easy to neglect ourselves when offering energy of deep appreciation. We must begin to be gentler with, kinder to and more grateful for ourselves so that that way of being can extend out towards those around us.  With practice, being grateful can become our instinct and the foundation from where we function. When I find myself being critical towards my loved ones, it is precisely the same critical voice that plays ten times louder and a hundred times more frequently in my own mind towards my own self.

I offer to you a gentle practice for deepening the energy of gratitude within your own heart.  This was inspired by other sources and teachers that have guided me.

Begin either lying or sitting comfortably in a quiet space. As you breathe in and out, become aware of the breath entering and leaving your nose. Now bring your attention to your heart and imagine that your breath is now entering and leaving through your heart, energizing and opening your heart center.

With each in-breath, first think of one person, then one place, one thing and then one event for which you are grateful.  With each exhalation, say thank you.  Now, with each inhalation, think of one part of your body that you appreciate. On the exhale, say thank you. Repeat 5-10 times with different parts of your body. When you complete your body gratitude, repeat with thinking of aspects of your mind and then your spirit that you appreciate most.

We are perfect as we are and we have the source of greatness within us. Our potential is infinite.

Be Kind. Be Grateful. Be Great. In Gratitude.

The photo in this post is from Free Digital Photos by James Barker.
The meditation in this post was inspired by Amy Ippoliti's video on YogaGlo (you must be a subscriber of this site to see the actual video and it is linked here primarily for credit)

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