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G is for Gratitude Practice

G is for Gratitude Practice

While not strictly related to yoga or meditation, a gratitude practice is a beautiful addition to one’s life.  You can choose how often you practice, daily or weekly, however in my opinion, stopping each day at least once to reflect on a moment you feel gratitude is just good for the soul. 

Google definition time!  Gratitude:  a quality of being thankful; a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Even in the darkest moments, there is always something to be grateful for.  A healing touch, kind words, a hug, the warmth of the sun, the solidity of the earth.  There is an abundance of gratitude all around you once you are open to receive it. 

Three Gratitude Practices

1.        Keep a gratitude journal.  Choose a time to reflect on your day, usually at the end of the day, but anytime where you can sit quietly for a few moments is best.  Write down 1-3 things you are grateful for that day.  For some, the first days can be challenging, so think simple.  These can be people or animals in your life, the basics of shelter, food and clothing, even modern conveniences.  This practice is about opening your heart and finding appreciation for what you have right now, versus what may not be within reach at this moment.  With practice, you'll find your gratitude extends out to other moments and people.  
2.        Meditate on gratitude.  This one may feel a bit more challenging at the beginning, but can be quite rewarding as it draws your awareness to the many sensations that can come with the feeling of gratitude.  Once again, sit in a space where you can be comfortable, relaxed and peaceful.  You can even do this in bed before drifting off to sleep.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply.  Think of one thing for which you are grateful today and begin to notice how you feel.  Do any physical sensations arise?  Warmth, relaxation, softening.  Does your breath change at all?  Deepening, slowing, becoming more even.  Where do your thoughts move as the gratitude passes through your mind?  Are you focused on an image, color, sound?  Stay with the sensations for several breaths. 
3.        Pay it forward.  Let’s work on the second part of the gratitude definition:  repaying kindness.  This can be as simple as holding the door for someone or giving the other driver the parking space.  You can donate items, volunteer, visit an older neighbor.  Plant trees, call a friend to tell them how much they mean to you (no texting!).  Remember, you never know what someone is experiencing and your kindness may make a lasting impression, no matter how small it may seem to you.  And the most amazing thing about kindness and gratitude is their ability to grow and spiral into great abundance. 

Do you have a gratitude practice? 

(This is part of a series of blog installments for the A to Z Challenge.  I will be covering each letter of the alphabet as it applies to the practice of yoga, meditation, and self-inquiry.)

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