A gratitude yogi trains her mind to remain in a state of heightened thankfulness. She sees opportunity where others see obstacles…fortune, where others see famine. She is not a Pollyanna, nor does she live in ‘denial’. She knows when to draw boundaries and allows herself to fully acknowledge feelings of sadness, fear, anger, etc…
The difference between the gratitude yogi and an untrained person is that the gratitude yogi doesn’t get ‘stuck’ in anger, ‘drained’ by self-pity or ‘mired’ in entitlement. Rather, she strengthens her spirit by fully experiencing the blessings of daily life. She draws energy from ‘the simple things’. In doing so, she harnesses the power of god, the divine, mother-nature, or whatever you choose to call it. Don’t believe me? Check out the benefits of gratitude, as noted by researchers at the UC Davins Emmons Lab.
To start your own gratitude practice try this:
Every morning before you rise and before you go to sleep, think of at least five things that you are grateful for. This way you start and end each day with a thankful spirit. As this becomes habit you will find yourself noticing things to be thankful for throughout the day. In every moment of your life you will find gratitude.
For example, yesterday as I got into my modest car I felt profoundly thankful for a vehicle that makes it easy for me to get from point A to point B…for the financial prosperity that allows me to have a full tank of gas….for the green tea that I was drinking…for the men and women who grew and picked the green tea leaves…for the collier county workers who paved the road that I was driving on….for the beautiful sun that was shining down on me….for my yoga students, whom I was driving to see…for a strong and healthy body that allows me to teach….and so on….
If you would like to start a more formal ‘gratitude yoga’ practice, here are a few exercises to try:
1) Keep a ‘gratitude journal’. Every evening before bed write thanks for all the blessings you received throughout your day. Be specific and write freely – no need to edit.
2) Create a ‘gratitude board’. Get together a bunch of magazines and cut out pictures that symbolize things that you are grateful for. Paste all of these things into a collage and hang it in your home.
3) Spend five minutes every day meditating on the spirit of gratitude. If you like you can use your gratitude board as your focal point.
4) Go for a walk in nature and find a lovely stone. Carry this ‘gratitude stone’ in your pocket. Reach in and touch the stone with a spirit of gratitude every time you feel blessed or appreciative.
5. Each day go out of your way to tell someone that you appreciate them. It can be a loved on, friend, or simply someone you encounter in your day.
6. Each week send a card or email to someone telling them all the things that you appreciate about them…how they make a positive impact in your life and the lives of others.