November Focus of the Month
By: Martha Goldstein
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri-Frederic Amiel (philosopher/poet)
As we approach the holiday season we prepare for the colder weather, busy work weeks and the anticipation of friends and family gathering together. We can get caught up in planning, shopping and all the exciting tasks that accompany this time of year. Gratitude and the practice of being grateful can get lost. It’s a hectic time and it’s too easy to lose our connection to ourselves and feel ungrounded so this November we are asking that you take the time to ‘freshen up’ your thankfulness.
Being thankful is part of our natural state. The true self is always grateful. Gratitude creates an environment of awareness; awareness of ourselves, of those around us and of course awareness of all of our blessings. It is a beacon of light that guides us inward to the place where all truth and love originates. Gratitude expands all that it touches and can help to dissolve resistance and obstacles in our daily lives. It also opens up our perspective, removes blockages that prevent us from feeling joyful, and reminds us to pause. Plus the act of being grateful is good for your health. Oh yes…this is a scientific fact! Scientists who study positive psychology found that even a small one time act of thoughtful gratitude produced an immediate 10% increase in overall happiness and a 35% decrease in depressive symptoms.
How then can we practice and cultivate our gratitude? Here are some simple ideas from my heart to yours…
1. Meditation is a perfect step toward opening your energy line to a more grateful daily consciousness. Even just a few minutes a day can change things, alter your equilibrium, and can spark magic.
2. Taking a few moments at the end or beginning of each day to reflect on those things in your life that you are thankful for. Perhaps even begin a gratitude journal where you can document even the smallest moments of gratitude. The key here is taking the time, slowing down to notice new and unexpected things. This type of journaling works because it can eventually change the way we perceive people and situations around us by adjusting what we focus on. And it can be anything from that neighbor who always greets you with a huge smile and a wave to the sweet little dog you pass each day as you walk to Yoga class.
3. Some easy Sanskrit Mantras that you can use in conjunction with your meditation practice can also help us to develop gratitude. Beginning by bringing focus to your breathing and allowing the breath to get longer. After at least ten distinct breaths take a deep inhale and then repeat any of the three outloud or to yourself as you exhale. You can use the mantra in Sanskrit or if you’re more comfortable just repeat the translation in English. You can continue for a minimum of ten breaths again or as long as you’d like. Repetition of a positive mantra can only attract more positivity into your life. Because you are declaring to the Universe that this IS what you are, this IS what you’re feeling. And so it will be.
– Kritajna Hum = I AM gratitude ; Being connected with all things. I am you, you are me. The deeper we dare to go within the more we connect with the true self. The grateful self.
– Dhanya Vad = I FEEL gratitude; When we are grateful we find grace. Creating space for gratefulness to expand in our hearts. I am one with gratitude.
– Samprati Hum = This present moment is my true self; Being here now, being grateful now. Our presence is our power. Gratitude creates presence in the moment.
4. The Act of Gratitude – We can reflect all we want but when we put our gratitude into action we develop an entirely new level of understanding within ourselves and of others. It can be simple acts of gratitude. Whatever makes sense for you. Even acknowledging a stranger who’s been kind can affect more than just you and that stranger.
Don’t ever be afraid to express your gratitude. Remember being grateful is your true Self. Being joyful and open is your true Self. Enjoying a sense of abundance and appreciation of yourself and others is a beautiful thing. Spread the importance of experiencing and expressing thankfulness and gratitude. Accept the small pleasures into your being and it will affect someone else, and so on. We are all connected. We are all one. And for that I’m grateful.