Are you feeling a current, common narrative right now? Heading into shorter days, colder months, quarantining ahead, and uncertain political/societal climate…many people are feeling short on hope and resilience, and are feeling a bit discouraged.
If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. What can we do, as we have no other course besides continuing to navigate day by day?
Consider adopting a gratitude practice.
November it’s a perfect month to practice daily gratitude, culminating in a day dedicated to giving thanks at month's end. Gratitude practice can have many forms:
As the day begins, or ends, you can sit in a quiet place which you’ve dedicated to reflection, meditation, and/or prayer. Light a candle. Sink into a heart-centered space by placing your hands over your heart and taking a few deep breaths. Release mental thoughts of worry, stress and concern. Imagine them falling from your body like heavy boots that you are relieved to take off. Imagine breathing in a beautiful warm light into your heart space…feel the warmth, and let it expand through your body. Use mindfulness to ground yourself in a simple gratitude for something you tend to take for granted. Fill your lungs with air and feel grateful for the air and for the health of your lungs. Listen to a sound in your environment, whether it’s a chattering of someone with whom you share your house or the hum of the furnace, and feel grateful for your ears that can hear and for comforts in your safe abode. Connect to the rhythm of your own beating heart and feel gratitude for your body and for all your heart handles on your behalf.
Some people keep a journal where they write a new unique gratitude each and every day. These can be as ordinary as having gratitude for the warmth, aroma and ritual of coffee in the morning, or as complex as being thankful for a complicated relationship.
One of my gratitude practices, especially when I have been troubled or worried about a loved one, is simply to put my hand on my heart, to connect and hold the feeling of love (the blessing of the gift of the relationship) and to express that I am “thankful for it all”. This has been particularly helpful during periods of time when I have struggled with the moodiness of my children, and my moodiness about their moodiness. I get quiet and ground myself in love (as I could easily react out of my fear, frustration, anger instead). I choose to connect to my gratitude for the gift of their being, and I seek any lessons I can learn for my own self growth in the moment. Many times, I bring myself to a heartfelt smile, happily choosing the messiness of the roller coaster of life, being grateful for having life and the dramas that come with it!
When faced with concerns that are out of our control, we need to be careful to not intensify focus on these thoughts as we will inadvertently allow them to take up residence in our homes and hearts. Worries are the imaginings of things we fear and are most often not the reality of the here and now. When we focus on them, we give them life - and we find ourselves battling an invisible enemy rather than being present in what is. Individually, we can’t solve national and global crises, but we can show up in our lives in this moment and nurture the good…through gratitude and intentional efforts to be the change that we want to see.
Please join us on Beverly Therapists social media as we will share gratitudes on a daily basis for the month of November. We invite you to email (BeverlyTherapists@iCloud.com) or text us (773-310-3488) an image of some gratitude that you have written on paper. When you do so, we will do our best to share it on social media, unless you express that you do not want it shared. Please do not sign your name or put any identifying information on/in the image as we want to honor anonymity in our humble shared communal journey of gratitude!
We hope that we as a community can comfort and inspire each other to make it through these upcoming months with resilience, willing hands and grateful hearts to be thankful for it all and to realize our best selves.
It is because of the darkness that we learn more deeply to treasure the light.
One translation for Namaste:
"My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire Universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things, we are united, we are the same, we are one."
Learn more about the author of this post: Lisa Catania, MSW, LCSW