GRATITUDE by London Centre for Mindfulness
Another word which may have a wider appeal is appreciation. There are so many things in life which we tend to take for granted but which are vital for our very survival – take the breath for example. The breath has been with us from our very first moment until our very last, but how often do we appreciate or even notice it?
Maybe only when we have a cold or something goes awry with the breath and our attention immediately becomes fine tuned to its every nuance. Perhaps it is due to an evolutionary trait that we tend to expend energy and attention to areas which pose potential dangers or may have a negative impact on our lives rather than the things which sustain us. But we can try to reverse this trend and open up a new world of greater experience and appreciation which can really impact on our lives in a very positive way, allowing us to be more aware of the many things which can give us ample cause to be grateful.
Physiologically, we are tapping into the parasympathetic response system of the body which nurtures and reinforces our bonding mechanisms, in contrast to the fight or flight response which helps to keep us on a high level of stress and anxiety with all the associated pressures to our body and mind.
In the Mindfulness for Stress Reduction course, we take time to notice and even record ‘pleasant events’ which normally may pass us by. These can be those nano second observations – a beautiful flower, a friendly gesture, bird song … We then notice how these observations are reflected in our bodies, breath and mind – maybe a loosening of muscles, a deepening of the breath, a smile appearing on our faces and a general ‘lightening’ of our mood.
Such moments can help us become more aware of other positive experiences in our lives. It can be a refreshing change to connect with real experience and escape the virtual reality bubble in which we spend so much of our time and which can give rise to so much unnecessary worry and rumination. It can also help us to connect more with others and appreciate just how much each of our lives is intertwined and dependent on so many for even our bare necessities of life, broadening our awareness to include the concerns and difficulties of many others, without disregarding our own concerns in the process. And maybe we can learn to appreciate even those who may have the uncanny knack of pushing our buttons, giving us ample opportunity to practice patience, develop greater mental resilience and also understanding.
So this Christmas, why not try to let others know just how much you appreciate them – not necessarily with expensive gifts, but just a few words which can mean so much.
Warm seasonal greetings everyone!
London Centre for Mindfulness, .