Several months ago I started a “gratitude practice.” Each day before I get up and again before I go to bed, I say a small prayer of thanks for three things I am thankful for.
This past weekend I experienced a strong dose of the results. I had to prepare for a procedure for two (2) full days. Two days without solid foods. It didn’t take me long to realize how lucky I am that at any time I can go to the cupboard and find something I want to eat. I said a small prayer of thanks. And as the days went on I was grateful for my sister-in-law who kept tabs on my attitude via text and email. And said a second small prayer of thanks. Finally, I was so very happy that my husband kept everything else under control without complaint while I was incapacitated. I said a third small prayer of thanks. That night, even though I would be under anesthesia the next day, I went to bed and repeated these things that made my day, and the most peaceful feeling came over me. In the end I was thankful that the medicine worked this time and the procedure went without incident.
There’s a surge of information about how practicing gratefulness benefits the human body. A gratefulness practice helps lower stress, increases alertness and enthusiasm, it shifts our focus to the positive so that we can see the abundance already present in our lives. Research shows that people who practice gratitude daily are happier and more content.
Dr. Robert Emmons, a psychologist at the University of California at Davis, has been studying gratitude for almost 10 years and is considered by many to be the world’s leading authority on gratitude. Dr. Emmons says, “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means we are aware of our blessings.”
Reflecting on your blessings every morning when you get up sets the tone of your day. When you set the tone of your day in a positive way, you’ll walk through the day more open, more relaxed, and better able to respond to each and every situation of the day in an appropriate way.
Sometimes we can’t see the gift in a situation at that moment. Sometimes the realization comes a little later. But when you trust that you are strong enough, smart enough, open enough to weather any storm, any situation before you, you can be grateful for every moment of life. Appreciating and being grateful for the things that happen in life prepares you to live your life fully.
Once you start practicing gratitude, it will be easier to recognize the little things that bring you joy but are often take for granted. Practicing gratitude gives you the ability to see the beauty in everyone and everything even during stressful situations. Practicing gratitude helps keep you centered so that you can fully experience – the gift of life.
Try this simple practice. Just think about three things you are thankful for each day. Think of three things that make you happy and say a little prayer of thanks. Then see what happens.
Blessings to you.
The title of this post came from the book, 100 favorite Bible Verses. Passage 15 in this book tells us that "the Psalms are a tapestry of human emotions.” The poetry of prayer in the Psalms weaves together anger, fear, joy, longing, despair, praise and passion. All emotions we feel every day.
But this psalm “Be Still and Know that I am God” is God’s answer to us. “It is brief and straightforward: Stop and remember who is on your side.”
But if you look closely at the psalm, it is anything but calm. It talks of mountains collapsing and earthquakes. All of these images are reflections on how we sometimes feel, especially when we feel like our lives are out of control. But when the Psalm mentions to “Be still, the whole tone of the passage changes from outside chaos to internal rest." We can do the same.
I loved what Pastor Jerry said this Sunday that red is the symbol of Joy and Fire. And the fire begins with the Spirit in us. And, the fire, that Spirit changes us. When we are grounded in love, strengthened in inner being, we get a sense of peace. He said that the Spirit is the energy of the heart of God, that transfers from the heart of God to your heart. We get this when we step away from the distractions of life and look inward.
And this is what the practice of yoga is all about. It is about learning how to live in the world while at the same time seeking God. When we practice yoga we are practicing and re-instilling our connection with God.
When we practice, we can "Stop, and remember who is on our side."
Blessings and namaste,
Classes at back at CRC