Mindfulness Activity #121
Count Your Blessings
Good Morning. Today’s practice is about gratitude. Research has shown that intentionally practicing gratitude makes us happier. It changes our brain and gets rid of a negative cognitive set…in other words, it frees us from scanning the world for bad things.
Yesterday, one of my close friends had an eight hour surgery. She apparently did well, but needed to go back to surgery in the middle of the night due to a complication seen in about 10% of people. Rather than say, “I’m one of the 10%…of course I am,” her response was, “I’m so happy the nurse caught this!”
For today’s practice it does not matter if you think about one thing or many, or if you think about little things like a flower outside your window or a big thing like an important relationship.
Our practice today has no chimes and no relaxing music or sounds. It is a quiet practice. You can sit or recline. Begin with a deep breath.
Sit and inhale deeply, noticing the moment your lungs are full, and then exhale. On your next inhale consider the oxygen being brought into your body and to each of your organs to keep you alive. See if you can connect to this oxygen as you breathe in and out. Consider the chair or the floor where you sit. It is solid and supports you. Feel that in the present moment, oxygen and a place to sit are all that you need. Continue to breathe in and out.
Now, take a moment to reflect on any of the things in your life that you are thankful for. Think about basic things like food, a place to be dry on a rainy day, a place to rest in the evening, your physical capabilities, your mind, your capacity to care for others, your ability to make choices and change if you wish to. Think about people in your life you are thankful for (whether you know them or you do not). If you like, you can make a list of blessings. For each blessing, say to yourself, I am grateful for_______…and take a breath in and out before moving to something else. If you get distracted or judgmental, just take a new breath, and gently prod yourself to find something you actually appreciate. Do this reset as many times as you need to.
When your practice is concluded, process it for a moment. How did it make you feel? What did you notice?
The idea of practices like this is not only the brief warm feelings that they generate, rather it is to develop in yourself a moment to moment noticing of things you are grateful for. This creates a balance to many negative things in the world we are primed to notice.
So, today, I am grateful that my friend is out of surgery and recovering. I am grateful for the wonderful surgeon who operated on her. I am grateful for the nurse who watched over her and monitored her. Notice things you are grateful for throughout the day and into your weekend. For starters…it is Friday!