The Power of Gratitude

Here is a thoughtful quote from Insight of the Day.  “The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.” Mary Davis -CEO of Special Olympics International.  

Do you have a practice of gratitude? Well, lets back up. Are you grateful for people, places, experiences and things in your life?  I mean REALLY grateful, not just the passing glance at a “thank you” muttered on an exhale. Grateful so that your heart is open wide.

I think most of us wander through life. This happens, that happens. Our moods go up, down or sideways and then we are on to the next activity. We get a gift and say the perfunctory “thank you.” And we are on to the  next activity. One in a while, when we have worked very hard and we’ve “won the prize” or get to the finish line, we are actually grateful. We may revel in that for a while and then we are on to the next activity or goal.

Are you following my pattern here? We are busy, busy, busy and once in a while we are grateful. That would be grateful, in between the business. I feel like it is funny that I am writing this, as I have ADD tendencies and am the “busy queen.”  This is not only for you, my reader, but me, author as well.

I have had parts of my life that have been pretty ugly, as we all have. During some of those dark times, I would hear suggestions about making a gratitude list. It felt like a “have to” job and I couldn’t see the reason why. But I did make gratitude lists. Every time I wrote down something for which I was grateful, I could feel an ever so slight movement out of the blackness of depression. Believe me, it was an every so slight movement, but a movement none the less. The blackness I felt inside was mirrored as gray, drab experiences of struggle, which I wanted to change. So, I would practice gratitude.

As I practiced gratitude, my world view began to change, and I began to realize that I was truly blessed

Fast forward several years. Now I am making a much more concerted practice of gratitude. My insides were getting sunnier and more spacious. As this increasing sunniness and spaciousness occurred, I could see the outside world more clearly and appreciate some of the beauty. Yes, more and more beauty each day.

Being the eternal seeker, I have tried many meditation techniques. A number of years ago, I heard about HeartMath. A speaker came to a Healing Touch Program conference. I was so intrigued.

HeartMath started by Doc Lew Childre, in California. Studies showed that when we are stressed, the heartbeat to heartbeat variability increases. The more me can adopt calmness, our beat to beat becomes more regular. There are many health disadvantages to Heart Rate Variability (HRV). HeartMath techniques have undergone over 25 years of rigorous scientific research supporting people in personal development and improved emotional, mental and physical health.

The techniques are simple. But you do need to practice them to get the full effects. The simple form, that you can do right now while reading this blog, is…

Stop what you are doing. Start taking slow, deep, breaths. Do this technique for a minute or two, until you feel comfortable. Next, while continuing to take slow deep breaths, think about something for which you are grateful. So grateful, in fact, that you feel your heart open. This can be a sunset/sunrise. Or a family member. Could be a pet or the sounds of birds, crickets or cicadas. The trick is to be grateful and have an open heart. Next step is to continue this practice for five minutes. As you become comfortable, increase to ten minutes, then fifteen minutes and twenty minutes.

Now we have the good, better, best! One time per day is good. Two times a day is better and three times a day is best. The more you practice, the more benefits you will enjoy. As you practice, you will note that your body will start responding to the slow, deep breaths by calming down. You will also notice that you can call yourself back from the edge of stress. You will notice better relationships as you change.

When is the best time to do this practice? Good question. The best time is the time that you will actually do the practice. First thing in the morning is a good time and before you go to bed. It will help you sleep better. Can you find a time during the day? I used to run a meditation group at my office. It was for patients and staff, whoever was free at that time. We did a 12:30-12:45 pm and actually did a ten-minute meditation in the HeartMath format. Pick times that you can commit. The in between times could be the few minutes siting at a stoplight.

One of the things I notice is all the beauty that surrounds us. It is ever changing every day, every season but there none the less. The other thing I am appreciating is the beauty of people that I meet. The judgement is less and less, and I can appreciate the unique qualities expressed by people.

I have also noticed that the more gratitude and appreciation I experience and express, the happier I am and the more positive opportunities I have been given. What we focus on grows.

Are you with me? Practice your gratitude. Challenge yourself to see beauty everywhere.

Let me know how you are doing here! (It will be posted on my blog 1-23-21 at noon). 🙂