ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
I first wrote this blog at the end of January and intended to post it then. As you know, another story came up as a matter or urgent interest, the possible threat of a pandemic of the Covid-19 virus. As this subject caught my attention, instead, I placed a Blog relating to HOW TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM which I hope you have read.
So now, as we are a few months into the pandemic and our lives have changed beyond what we could have imagined at the beginning of the year, I am coming back to the ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE as a very useful and essential tool to help us navigate these unusual times.
So, back in January, in an attempt to keep up with some of the on-line action, I had asked some of my regular & long-term students could they give me a review on Google. To be honest, I did not know what to expect, but let’s say I was more than pleasantly surprised with what was posted. In fact, I felt very touched by the kind words of appreciation and gratitude that was expressed. Not just for my teaching, but for the gratitude of having yoga in our lives.
This also coincided with me listening to a podcast from Sounds True – I have been listening to their weekly offerings for the past 5 years. This podcast was about Living with Gratitude, the speaker, Brother David Steindl-Rast.
If interested in hearing this podcast, which I do recommend, here is the link:
Here is another chance to hear Brother David speak from the TED talks:
So, What is there to be Grateful for?
Grateful living is an attitude towards our way of life which asks us to notice all that is already present and abundant – from the tiniest things of beauty to the grandest of our blessings – and in so doing, to take nothing for granted.
We can learn to focus our attention on, and acknowledge, that life is a gift. Even in the most challenging times, as we are currently experiencing, living gratefully makes us aware of, and available to, the opportunities that are always available; opportunities to learn and grow, and to extend ourselves with care and compassion to others. Grateful living is based in, and reinforces values, such as respect, responsibility, and generosity. Small, grateful acts every day can uplift us, make a difference for others, and help change the world.
How to start Being Grateful?
I have found the most meaningful way to do this, is to have a Gratitude Journal. Commit to write at the end of every day, 3 things you were grateful for and why. Simple as that. Does not have to be profound or complicated. I often write how grateful I am to be out in nature or to simply have the company of my beautiful dog Leo.
The research suggests that when we do this for even just one week, our Happiness Index rises about 10%. There is another plus to this, that 10% increase stays present for about 6 months. So can you imagine if you do this daily, how much more positivity and feelings of well-being will flow your way. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to try it for yourself.
Interested to know more, take a look at Brother David’s website which is bursting with an abundance of gratitude possibilities, like, an excellent library of resources; blogs; poetry; online courses and much more on the subject of grateful living.
In the GRATITUDE WEBSITE you can sign up for various communications like
Light a Candle – engage in a meaningful ritual
Daily Question – reflect on the gifts of your life
Send an ecard – express your care & gratitude
Private Gratitude Journal – write a personal journal entry
Here is one of the practices outlined, so similar to our body-based mindfulness techniques.
Cultivating Acceptance: An Embodied Practice
Noticing resistance in our body can, perhaps surprisingly, offer us a gateway to acceptance.
Rather than binding us to an idea about reality, being with our experience of resistance can help us navigate even the most challenging circumstances with more ease and greater capacity for learning.
As you move through your day, bring gentle awareness to the felt sensations of your body.
Notice how your body feels when you resist something: It might be a piece of news you hear, a conversation you have with someone, a physical condition you’re experiencing, or even a gift you receive.
In addition to the felt sensation in your body, perhaps you notice an emotional response.
Experiment with simply allowing these felt responses, trying to refrain from sweeping them under the rug or manipulating them.
Acknowledge the sensations. You might play with keeping them nameless or naming them; notice how each changes your experience of the sensation, being mindful to avoid any stories you might have about them.
Reflect with gentleness and interest on the simplicity of being with your body’s responses to life as they unfold. What does this awaken in you?
About Brother David (short version!)
Brother David Steindl-Rast was born in Vienna, Austria (1926) and holds a PhD from the Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna. After 12 years of training in the 1,500-year-old Benedictine monastic tradition, Brother David received permission to practice Zen with Buddhist masters. An international lecturer and author, Brother David is a leader in the monastic renewal movement as well as the dialogue between Eastern and Western religions. His most recent book is Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer.
Brother David has written numerous books and has a dedicated website to GRATITUDE + GRATEFUL LIVING where you can find loads of interesting articles and of course practices. Some of these practices are not so different from what we practice in yoga + mindfulness, not surprising as Brother David has been influenced by Buddhism, Zen and much more. At present, Brother David serves a worldwide Network for Grateful Living, through Gratefulness.org, an interactive website with several thousand participants daily from more than 240 countries and territories.
With much Gratitude to Brother David