As the adventure of summer ends, sunny days become shorter and for some, a new school year begins, new stressors can challenge your emotional and mental wellbeing. Life’s realities—city traffic, work deadlines, household responsibilities and unexpected tragedies—call for practical tools for uplifting your daily mood. A powerful means of cultivating daily contentment and peace with what is, or Santosha (as yogic philosophy calls it), is through the continuous practice of gratitude. Here are five ways to empower yourself and uplift your spirits through the practice of gratitude:
1. Wake up and go to bed reflecting on a blessing you’re thankful for. Let your first thought of the day and last thought of the evening acknowledge positivity in your life, both setting the tone for your day and bringing you into a peaceful rest. If it’s been a rough day, try acknowledging something simple yet so vital for your physical existence. You might place a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly and close your eyes to feel and be grateful for your heartbeat and breath.
2. Practice seeing blessings in disguise. The ability to see good in all things opens the gateway for receiving encouraging insights from even life’s seemingly unpleasant circumstances. The lens through which you choose to view your experiences colors your relationship with those experiences. Your choosing to see light in any situation predisposes you to stay positive. Sometimes your day’s agenda may fall through due to circumstances outside of your control. Let’s say you had planned to accomplish so many tasks, but your car broke down and now have to take a day off from work and stay home. You were on the verge of sickness from stress and over-doing, and this forced immobility causes you to slow your momentum and take some time to breathe, recover, heal your body and re-align with your greater purpose—to enjoy your life—and not get so caught up in the rush of city living. Trust that the universe is conspiring for your greater good.
3. Offer any of your routine activities—bathing, cooking, driving to work, washing the dishes, etc.—as an act of gratitude. Dedicating any of your ordinary tasks as a gesture of appreciation can turn almost any act into something sacred and even meditative. It also allows you to be present and not take that activity for granted, finding and exuding happiness wherever you are at the moment. For instance, when walking to the grocery store, remember the simple words of Author and Meditation Leader Thich Nhat Hahn to inspire reverence, “Walk as though your feet were kissing the earth.” Through this perception, you infuse love and care into the chore, which becomes an act of mindfulness and joy.
4. Choose positive inner dialogue that acknowledges blessings. Observe your daily mind talk. What are your inner commentaries throughout the day? Notice when you can redirect your language to words of thankfulness. For instance, instead of complaining about sore calves after a hike, you might try thanking your body for its ability to exercise and delight in the opportunity you had to go on a hike. As you’re working out, what are your inner words of motivation? Do you add stress to your body by telling it it’s not good enough or do you inspire its beauty and responsiveness by acknowledging what’s functioning, improving and feeling strong? In his book, The Hidden Messages in Water, Japanese Scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto experimented with the power of positive and negative words to transform water (which constitutes 70% of the human body) at a molecular level, and observed the formation of either beautiful symmetric crystals or distorted asymmetrical shapes relatively. Watch your inner dialogue as you react to events throughout your day. How might you respond with words of encouragement and affirmation?
5. Be present and intentional in your expression of gratitude. Witness how you express gratitude to others. Throughout your day, how often do you show thanks to others who extend kindness to you in any form? Examine how you externally communicate and connect with them. Were they able to understand and receive your message? A simple “thank you for…(name a specific act of kindness)” directed with eye contact and audible genuine tone of voice may trigger a powerful exchange of joy. Pausing to look, breathe and show acknowledgement can make a difference in how you both internalize and express gratitude. For example, being served at a restaurant, it can be easy to overlook the efforts put into providing your order. When the server brings your food, you have an opportunity to connect with another being authentically by pausing your current engagement at the table, looking at the server in the eyes and smiling genuinely with a word of thanks.
As with any skill or art form, sincere and diligent practice makes progress. The more you exercise gratitude, the more naturally you can cultivate a state of contentment and peace amid change and life’s circumstances. A beautiful bonus to this practice is that it’s infectious, and inherently spreads your joyful energy with the beings you offer gratitude to, catalyzing a ripple effect of giving and receiving with the universe. If everyone practiced daily acts of genuine gratitude, imagine how much peace would be circulating throughout humanity.
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REviews of Root 2 Rise Yoga:
Michelle truly lives out what she teaches. She is so much more than a yoga teacher - I learned this when I went on her exquisitely curated trip that she organized to Costa Rica this past June 2018...Hopefully like me, you'll be delighted by her effervescent love of movement, nature, and all people!
Michelle clearly stands out with her beautiful and bright energy. I love how her practice and teaching encompass body, mind and spirit. She not only teaches yoga but lives and exudes it.
Michelle not only teaches 'yoga', she embodies it fully with her heart and soul...
Michelle is by far one of the best instructors I've ever had, period. Patient, clear in her explanations and demos, and so encouraging...
My first yoga class was with Michelle years ago. You can have the best (yoga pose) sequence and not teach from your heart. With Michelle, I also feel her passion when I'm in her class. I can see she loves what she does, and she inspired me to want to teach yoga, too.
I’ve had dozens of instructors over the years, but Michelle is far and away the best yoga mentor I’ve ever practiced with. She epitomizes grace during these difficult times. Michelle has saved my sanity and my back while working from home, keeping me grounded with her sharing of yogic teachings and meditation techniques. Her repertoire of physical asanas is encyclopedic, and I’ve loved learning new poses and stretching my boundaries. Jump in, all. You’ve got this!
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