The Healing Power of Gratitude
One of the most profound abilities humans possess is gratitude. This feeling of appreciation and thankfulness unlocks our potential for greatness. Gratitude celebrates all that is warm and nourishing; it taps our reserves for light and benevolence. And it unveils a universal truth: Life and all its incredibleness is—in some views and forms—finite and to be grateful for its bounty is to honor it.
For many, gratitude comes easy. It is consistently woven throughout the day's web. For others, gratitude is a challenge that might provoke unease or frustration. Within this schism there is the certainty that gratitude begets wellbeing. However it is (or is not) cultivated in one's life is truly personal. But its existence is universally beneficial for all.
In Ayurveda gratitude is essential for the care of the body, mind, and spirit. It acts like a vehicle, transporting your overall being to a higher state of happiness, mindfulness, and wellbeing. The ancient Sankrit texts boast simple mantras that express the exercises of feeling gratitude and being gratitude. Practicing this can help balance emotions, which can otherwise manifest in the body in unhealthy ways. (For example, irritability, anger and judgement can result in an imbalance of pitta in the body, which can be expressed as increased acidity and ulceration. Gratitude can help to quell this.)
Within Western research there is abundant evidence that supports the connection between gratitude and greater happiness and health. "Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships," states experts at Harvard Medical School. David Steindl-Rast, a monk, speaker, and revered author, has spoken in front of millions about the reality-based evidence of feeling gratefulness and its power for surmounting the seemingly insurmountable. Gratitude can even improve one's quality of sleep.
What this all suggests is uplifting. A practice accessible and free to everyone has the power to transform our lives. The question, really, is how can we implement gratitude more in our day-to-day? And how can we help those for whom gratitude is more of a challenge? These are important quandaries that we believe simply asking will open the gates to more gratitude. At UMA, two favorite practices we look to are daily journaling and yoga. These provide a framework to explore and experience the things in our lives that are sacred. Whether or not those work for others is personal. As we enter this holiday season, all we hope for is there to be continued and more gratitude in everyone's life, as this is the key to greater wellbeing and a stronger world.
With sincere gratitude,