We all know what it is, but how many of us actively practice gratitude? There is a mighty difference between knowing gratitude and practising it. The latter enlivens the celebration of life living through us.
During a discussion on gratitude in class today, one lady asked if we could explore why and how gratitude is so powerful. I invited her to elaborate. She explained that she considers herself grateful but doesn’t understand how so many people find gratitude so powerful.
~Like, I’m grateful for what I have; of course, I am, but it doesn’t ‘move me’; I feel slightly better. I get it, but I don’t understand why it’s supposed to be so life-changing.”
I nodded and asked if we could try a little practice. My client willingly agreed, as did the rest of the group.
I invited the group to close their eyes, relax, take a deep breath, and arrive in their bodies. Next, I asked them to think of one thing they are grateful for – family, home, their health, the friendly nod from a stranger on the way to class today or something else. Then, I invited them to feel the gratitude, noticing where it arises in their body, their belly, heart, head or all over at a cellular level. I suggested they breathe into their gratitude, really feel it, stay with it and notice what happens, what’s different. Then, I invited them to think of another thing they were grateful for and explored the practice in the same way. After choosing one more thing they were thankful for and experiencing the cycle for the third time, I closed the practice.
When we opened our eyes, I glanced around the group. The lady who had requested we explore gratitude was wearing a gentle and satisfying smile, and with her hand on her heart she nodded and expressed,
“Thank you, I get it now – I feel it”.
We continued the discussion, exploring the power of expressing gratitude to others and how we feel when others express their gratitude to us.
The beautiful AHA moments
In concluding, the group expressed their understanding. One man added that, like mindfulness, gratitude is most powerful when experienced and practised as opposed to merely known – which I thought was a powerful observation.
Like all emotions, knowing gratitude is one thing: knowing it will be effective at a cognitive and intellectual level.
Practising gratitude allows it to come to life and live through us, in our cells and hearts and explode in our minds, firing and wiring all the good stuff, calming all our neurological and neurochemical systems and grounding us in what matters and what’s important to us. Practising gratitude is a simple acknowledgement and celebration of life living through us. That said, it is no wonder the practice is so powerful.
Hilary Connor – Mindfulness Teacher & Mindfulness Based Wellbeing Coach
PG Dip, PG Cert, HDip.