Gratitude Practice Guide

Imagine if the first thing you heard or saw when you turned on the news or looked at your newsfeed every day were beautiful and heartfelt stories. You'd feel uplifted, right? And if the painful - and often these days horrifying and traumatic - news followed we might have more room inside to breathe into what those stories brought up for us and digest them. Instead most of us are overloading our nervous systems daily with the traumas and trials of the world, without having a sufficient way to unwind, process, or transform what we hear and feel into something positive. Of course we yogis know unwinding stress through our bodies in our yoga practice is the best! But we can't always get on our mats and sometimes the small simple adjustments in our focus can make a significant difference in our day.

How do you start your day? What if, beginning at Thanksgiving, you made a daily morning gratitude practice part of your morning ritual. And kept that gratitude practice going until the next holiday of your choice, be in Hanukkah or Christmas or even New Year's? Just a few moments a day is all that is needed to ground our consciousness in a bigger place, a place inside where we feel hope and possibility, where we appreciate all the blessings we have in our lives even as we are real with the challenges and sometimes losses.

Here are 3 approaches that might work for you.

1: When you wake up in the morning, take a few deep breaths and think of one thing you are grateful for. It could simply be a new day. It could be someone you love, it could be having a good job or your adorable puppy. Some days one thing is enough, other days your list might be long, but to be regular keep it do-able so 1-3 things. Really feel the feeling in your heart of gratitude for that person or thing you are grateful for. Then get up as usual and go on with your day. 

2. Take a moment to write down 1-3 things you are grateful for in a journal, perhaps by your bed.

3. Speak your gratitude aloud to your child or your partner each morning. Maybe they'll have something to add too. It might be just the pause your family needs in the morning rush, to help you remember what's really important in the midst of it all.

Alternatively, gratitude practice is something that is lovely to do before bed to settle your mind and heart into a peaceful state. No matter how difficult your day, likely you can pause and think of one thing you are grateful for. Take a deep breath, and savor the feeling of gratitude.

One practice I love to do with my husband and daughters is "roses, buds and thorns".

We usually do this around the dinner table. It's a way to share about our days and acknowledge that the challenges-  the thorns- are just as important to share as the roses- what we  are grateful for, what was good about our day. And there is always something to look forward to or be hopeful about, the buds, and that is fun to share too and can orient us towards the positive even if our thorn was very thorny that day.

It's a fun and helpful way for us to reflect on and share about our days.

Whatever your approach- a simple moment of gratitude each day or a roses, buds and thorns shared with a friend, partner or children, make it a habit. As the days become more hectic in the holiday season, slowing down even a little to savor the goodness in our lives will make our days much brighter.

With Gratitude for all of you in our dear Yoga Sanctuary family.

Sara Rose

Yoga Sanctuary