Thanksgiving is this week and during this time of year there is a lot of talk about gratitude and how meaningful it is. But, did you know that gratitude is good for your heart???
Energy is vibration with information that connects and communicates. All thoughts, emotions, words and actions have a unique vibrational frequency. Gratitude has a high frequency. This high frequency allows it to penetrate and break up dense, heavy and sharp energies and emotions.
Clinical studies conducted at UC Davis and UCSD Medical School showed that practicing gratitude lowered blood pressure, improved immune function and enhanced better sleep. They found that it improved heart health by lowering inflammation and improving heart rhythms. In addition, they saw a 25% reduction in dietary fat intake and lower levels of cortisol – a hormone released in response to stress.
Other studies reported finding that gratitude is a natural pain reliever. It reduces depression. It activates more activity in the hypothalamus – the part of the brain that controls such bodily function such as stress levels, metabolism, eating, drinking and sleeping and the region of the brain responsible for the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that signals nerve cells and plays a key role in making us feel good as a reward to behavior. It also widens the blood vessels, helps the kidney release salt and urine, reduces insulin production in the pancreas, and helps the digestive tract stay healthy.
In yoga we say that energy goes where attention flows. So why not flow a little attention in the direction of gratitude this week.
Rituals – Create a simple morning ritual that reminds you to be grateful – maybe it is the lighting of a candle on your kitchen counter, or a short meditation while you prepare a cup of morning tea or wait for the smell of fresh coffee to find it’s way to the corners of your kitchen. Maybe it is taking a few more moments to cuddle with your children or your pet. Maybe it is a gifting yourself a new lavender shower gel and appreciating it during your morning routine.
Reminders – Schedule reminders through out the day. Set the alarm on your phone (with a ring tone that makes you feel good!) and take a gratitude pause. Soon you won’t need the alarm, you will develop a gratitude habit of taking little breaks through out the day to remember. Think of it as taking your Vitamin G!
Mediation – Sit quietly – it doesn’t have to be long – focus your attention on things that you are grateful for. And consider focusing on qualities about yourself that you are grateful for. We are always looking outward – to be grateful for things we have, and opportunities we are given. What about looking into your own heart and being grateful for qualities that bring light and grace into the lives of others. Notice how you feel after a few moments. This is warm medicine.
Share – Tell people how you feel by thanking them and letting them know how important they are to you and why. Paying attention is the most powerful and genuine way to express and live your gratitude. Not only will you feel healthier, but you are sharing the health with others. Gratitude can become the bridge that transforms you and your relationships.
Help others – The act of helping others has the added benefit of reflecting our generosity back to us by enhancing our feelings of gratitude. Volunteer at a local organization where you can show up and take part in the lives of other people of even animals, take time to listen when a friend needs support, or simply hold a door open for someone when you enter a building or shop.
For most of us there have been times in our lives or situations in which feeling grateful is or has been difficult. This could be due to circumstances within, health issues or events beyond our control like a recent death, financial worries, or devastation from a storm. This is when we most need the practice of taking time to reflect, create ritual and reminders, find some source of meditative breathing or movement, and most important to connect in community and share in some way.
For today just take one moment to consider how gratitude feels in your body, how you can create more of it, and how it could be a medicine to heal some aspect of your life.
Namaste and have a beautiful Thanksgiving.