If this sounds like how you often experience life, then 12 ways of exploring mindfulness and gratitude to live a peaceful and happy life is the blog post is for you.
Do you ever feel disconnected from yourself? Do you sometimes feel like there is a dark cloud hanging over your head, and it doesn’t seem to want to go away?
Finding the positive in your day
Unless you have a support like The Relief Program, or The Revive Program I have found that the best way to cope with these feelings of disconnection and negativity is through practicing gratitude and mindfulness.
This blog post will explore how these practices can help us live a pain-free life!
12 ways of exploring mindfulness and gratitude
What exactly is gratitude?
Years ago, if someone had told me that feeling grateful about my own life could help with emotional and physical pain, I would not have understood how this could be the case.
Never in my childhood, or young adulthood was I taught to understand that a gratitude meditation or mindfulness practice was an essential part of creating positive feelings.
I also did not realise that having gratitude and saying thank you to a person for their act of kindness, potentially had more chance of benefitting me, to give me happiness, than it would give to the person I was grateful to.
Gratitude, if used throughout my day, results in giving my body a sense of ease and relaxation.
It connects with the Ventral Vagal System around the heart and this creates a state of rest and digest which gives immediate health benefits. Just like going to the gym, or eating well.
Exploring and Practicing Gratitude when you feel none!
So it was later on in life when I was trying to get free of addiction, that I desperately needed to see the positive in what felt like the hardest of times.
I learned to understand that expressing gratitude or feeling grateful and counting my blessings had benefits that could actually improve my self-esteem.
These were to become an essential part of my own self-care practice.
It was good to appreciate how gratitude helped with my ability for good mental health which had previously been an alien concept to me.
To experience how depression and anxiety could be eased when I wrote down 10 positive sentences about my life was a relief, and gave me some power over how to deal with my feelings.
How do you develop gratitude practice?
Appreciation is the key!
A simple appreciation exercise and one that I could complete in a few moments could release tension.
I had been fanatically educated about being thankful to God during my Convent School education from the age of 8-16 years of age.
Everything was about thanking God and asking for mercy for the things I did wrong. I do not remember feeling deeply connected or spiritually nourished at the time.
As a Jewish girl, this was even more strange. However, these habits felt like a duty and something that I would get into trouble for if I did not perform them well.
This was the example of gratitude I had been given whilst I was growing up. It is not the experience of the world of gratitude and meditation I live in nowadays.
Although years later, I realised that actually, in retrospect I felt a lot of gratitude for the care I received from the Nuns, during difficult periods of my childhood.
So 12 ways of exploring mindfulness and gratitude is looking at how to implement the gratitude process in your day to day life.
Why being grateful is for your benefit, not just for others
As a child, I was told to ‘be grateful’, rather than learning that practicing gratitude was an essential act of self-care which had the special ability to help me feel better.
I always thought showing appreciation was the polite way to behave. This had nothing to do with gratitude and mindfulness.
Sending a card to say thank you to a friend or family member was done automatically, sitting for boring hours writing thank you cards after Christmas and birthdays.
So in your childhood, did you have to practice gratitude for a gift or act of kindness from another because it was just ‘the right thing to do‘? Rather than feeling the connection with the awareness of the well-being aspect of a gratitude and mindfulness practice.
Not until my early 30’s did I begin to understand the benefits of meditation and appreciation, that this combination, to actually foster gratitude, is an act of mindful awareness and self-love.
That when I express gratitude, I am actually opening up neuro pathways in my brain, and activating parts of my parasympathetic nervous system, which create balance and relaxation in my body.
’12 ways of exploring mindulness and gratitude’
This meditation in turn makes systems in your body, communicate, flow and repair more easily.
When Practicing gratitude feels impossible
If you are living in a world where relationships at home or at work are fraught with stress, then it is difficult to maintain an attitude of gratitude.
It can also be difficult if you have high levels of chronic pain or illness and a support like The Relief Program, can be essential to get you back on track.
However, this is actually when it is most important to get your gratitudes down on paper, and then notice whether your gratitude helps negativity or depression begin to shift.
A few years ago I saw a movie called Collateral Beauty, and throughout the film, there had been much tragedy and inexplicable grief.
In the end, one of the main characters explained how within this, they were aware there was still the collateral beauty of positive events or situations, that could easily go unnoticed unless you make the effort to see them.
Like in the movie, 12 Ways of Exploring Mindfulness and Gratitude is about the meditation of focusing on someone stepping up to help, when they do not need to.
Or in the midst of crisis and grief, there is the view of an exquisite sunset.
However painful something may seem, there is still the potential to focus onto a beautiful feeling, experience, or relationship that nourishes you.
Or the opportunity to take time for meditation and connect simply with your heartbeat or something else in your life that is working right now, giving you life.
Introducing gratitude when you hit rock bottom
I remember when I was going through a rock bottom period with the most important relationships in my life, this was the point the power or gratitude really stepped up for me.
Whilst trying to kick addiction, I was exhausted with two tiny children. I had fallen out with some people who were extremely important to me.
A friend suggested, I get a lovely notepad and turn it into a gratitude journal, and begin this mindfulness exercise. I committed to writing down 7 things each day that I was grateful for.
Each day for at least two years, I wrote my gratitude list at the end of each day. This meant every night, no matter what had happened since I woke up, I went to bed with a sense of warmth for the positivity I had in my life.
Exploring mindfulness and gratitude had been an extremely helpful and positive experience for me.
What does the research say?
Research shows that gratitude meditation or mindfulness-based interventions and awareness like gratitude can have a positive impact on depression, pain, smoking, and addiction, among other conditions.
Meditation and awareness
Mindfulness and gratitude meditation means being fully aware of the present moment and seeing your reality from a place of nonjudgment, if possible.
To feel grateful and practice gratitude meditation regularly takes your focus to the benefits of relationships or experiences in your life.
Meditation alone is good, however, add in gratitude meditation and you may double its benefits.
Gratitude meditation is more of an action-based positive psychology exercise. I like to have a gratitude meditation journal on the go at all times.
So how exactly can mindfulness and gratitude help us?
– Mindfulness is being in the present moment non judgementally.
– Gratitude is acknowledging all of our blessings in life to have well being, even when there are so many negative things happening around you. For example, taking care of your health despite how much pain you may be in.
12 Ways of Exploring Mindfulness and Gratitude
There are many ways that we can practice gratitude meditation and mindfulness in our everyday lives!
Gratitude Meditation Practice
1 – One way is to start your day off with a gratitude meditation and mindfulness practice by sitting in silence and focusing on your breath for a few minutes.
This will help you to calm down and focus on the present moment. Then focus on your life’s challenges and then bring a feeling of gratitude and mindfulness to it.
This kind of mindfulness meditation may seem strange, however as you practice this, notice how your mental health may begin to improve a little.
Gratitude and Mindfulness Body Scan Practice
2 – When you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, practice taking a few moments, inhale deep breaths, and focus on how your body feels. Notice any tension or tightness in your muscles, and try to let go of it.
Think of something you can feel grateful for and see how your body is perhaps physically letting go and observe how the benefits improve over a few days.
3 – Write a list of things you are grateful for in a gratitude journal. This could be anything from your health, to your family, to the fact that you have a roof over your head. The more grateful you are, the better you will feel!
Gratitude for being who you are
4 – When you are feeling down or negative, try to focus on one positive thing about yourself. This could be something like your sense of humour, or how kind you are to others. Focusing on our positives can help us to feel more connected to ourselves and appreciate our lives.
5 – Have a gratitude jar and pop a note about something you feel grateful for into it each day.
You could have one for the whole family so that you all contribute to it. You could put a gratitude into the jar about each other.
Daily Gratitude Practice for 21 days
6 – While you have your morning coffee, start writing down events, and focus your gratitude for them. This is a very powerful gratitude practice. Make sure you get yourself a lovely notebook, and do this every day for three weeks to help cultivate gratitude.
Rather than just thinking about what you are grateful for, you actually start counting blessings and putting numbers next to them. When I started my gratitude practice I always wrote 7 things to be grateful for each day.
Find a Gratitude Guided Mindfulness or Meditation Practice
7 – Look on YouTube or Spotify, or find an app for a guided meditation that is a gratitude meditation practice.
Try to find a guided meditation that you can do regularly, and that is easily accessible on your phone. A gratitude meditation practice will give you a daily well-being process, that will have real power on focus on the positive in your life, as well as helping you to practice gratitude meditation.
Ways to be kind
8 – Whilst having your morning tea or coffee think of a relationship this week where you feel thankful to the person for all the things their acts of kindness that make a difference to your life
Gratitude and creativity
9 – Design a cake or make a card as a token of your appreciation of all things they do for you that bring you happiness.
Gratitude for things that you own
10 – Write a list of 5 possessions you were given or worked hard for that you are grateful for and how or why they bring you joy.
Planting your Gratitude in the ground
11 – Plant a rose or a tree, in memory of something in your past that still gives you joy and happiness
Exploring the evidence that gratitude meditation actually helps you?
12 – Dr. Robert Emmons , psychology professor at the University of California – Davis and gratitude researcher, explains that people who experience and express sincere gratitude feel more : alert, alive, interested, and enthusiastic, which improves their well-being.
Additionally, people who express authentic gratitude and appreciation experience less : envy, anger, resentment, regret.
You could also look for Ted Talks on gratitude and mindfulness to learn more about the science, so you understand it is not just some subjective well-being idea, but actually based on good research.
What holds you back from mindfully noticing all that you have to be grateful for?
If you find it hard to feel gratitude, you could spend some time this week focusing on why you feel blocked in this area of your life.
Give yourself some time each day for a week in meditation whilst walking or sitting.
If you are suffering with negativity that really will not budge, the The Ixchel DNA Pain Relief Course might be helpful in shifting underlying core beliefs that keep you stuck in negativity, anxiety or depression.
I hope that this 12 Ways of Exploring Mindfulness and Gratitude blog post has helped you see how mindfulness and gratitude can help us live a pain-free life. These practices have been so beneficial for me, and I know they can be for you too!
If you would like more information on how to get started with mindfulness and gratitude, please visit my website at [ixcheltherapies.co.uk]. Thank you for reading!