Day Twenty-three

Day 23: Finding Gratitude and reconnecting with what matters

An opportunity to remember what really matters - Happiness meditation

by Elise Bialylew

*click play to listen to the meditation

Cultivating Gratitude

We've all been living through unprecedented challenges.

I've found, that calling upon gratitude, even in the midst of very real stress is a way to help re-focus the mind and find some joy even if just for a few moments.

There has been a lot of loss and grief that many have and still are facing.

As we emerge from this challenging time, we will all no doubt be reflecting on what really matters and recreating paths that fulfill us.

Mindfulness helps us pay deeper attention to the ordinary ‘miracles’ in our lives that we so often take for granted, that are still present even while we all move through this strange time.

Through focussing on what we can be grateful for we build new neural pathways that incline the mind towards the positive aspects of our existence.

A study by Dr Joshua Brown, professor of psychological brain sciences at Indiana University, looked at the benefits of gratitude for three hundred students who were receiving counselling for depression or anxiety. The students were divided into three groups, the first writing a weekly letter of gratitude to another person (most participants didn’t actually send it); the second writing about their negative feelings and experiences; and the third serving as a control group who did no writing activity. Both one month and three months after the writing exercise ended, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health than either of the other groups.

Gratitude isn’t about denying the challenges or suffering in life, it’s about amplifying the goodness that is already there by simply noticing it more consciously.

We can spend so much of our lives missing the many miracles that are present while we face challenges. We can so easily become imprisoned by unproductive thinking patterns and self limiting beliefs. As you’ve probably noticed in your meditation practice, it’s so easy to get absorbed and carried away by our own stories and inner narratives.

Next time you’re feeling tension or stress ask yourself “what can I let go of in this moment to make things feel a little easier for myself”.

What thoughts, expectations, attitudes or beliefs could you let go of that would support your wellbeing and happiness?

Share your reflections in the Facebook group or on instagram using #hashtag #mindfulinmay

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