One of the first things I learned about yoga is that one needs to be able to find a place where it is possible to focus undisturbed. So find yourself a comfortable quiet space for your gratitude practice. I suggest sitting in lotus pose (cross-legged position) or in a straight back chair with feet planted firmly on the floor. A sitting position keeps me from falling asleep.
Start with slow deep breaths in and out. The importance of correct breathing is probably the second thing I learned. Notice with each even inhale and exhale how easily the breath flows fluidly through the body. Do not lose this bond of breath and body.
We will call this yoga’s version of a gratitude list. Beginning with the letter “A” we are going to breathe in one word for something we are grateful for (limit the number of people—too easy). You are not allowed to think about choosing the “best” word but focus on the first word that enters your consciousness. Also, the idea is that you truly feel the essence of gratitude. When a word does not immediately appear, I continue to breathe evenly until a word is revealed. One usually does.
However, do not get bogged down or stuck. If after two or three breaths nothing comes to you move on to the next letter. You can return later.
Awesome to Zealous
You are to accept the first word that begins with “A” which comes to you. Example: Breath in acceptance, two, three, four. Breathe out one, two, three, four. Breath in a word which begins with the letter “B” two, three, four. Exhale out one, two, three, four. You do not necessarily have to breath out your word. You can if you wish. Whatever way works so that your inhales and exhales are even. Continue until you complete the entire alphabet.
When you have reached the letter “Z” take a few more breaths to conclude. If time allows you may wish to write about the experience and how it made you feel. How many of the words can you recall? I usually remember the words or ideas that I need to pay attention to. Notice how you feel compared to before you began.
The Shadow Side
Did this practice prompt negative responses rather than positive expressions of gratitude? Not to worry. Most people suppress the dark or shadow side of their nature. I am not talking about dangerous or deadly acts. I am talking about those secret thoughts and feelings which cause us to feel guilt or shame. Or behaviors we would rather not acknowledge.
These unwanted “demons.” Okay “gremlins” are our source of fear. I found it impossible to feel gratitude and fear. In order to overcome fear, I needed To Observe. Witness. Accept. And Claim. It did not work to ignore the parts of me that were battered and bruised. I had to bring them out into the light. When I gave myself permission to feel the hurt and anger. I opened the door to forgiveness and freedom. Unwrapping the gifts of gratitude.
Witness the words
Try this exercise again in a day or so. But do not repeat words. If the same word comes to you wait for the next word. As you progress you can choose to increase the challenge by breathing two or more words for each letter. Inhale the first word, exhale. Inhale the second word, exhale, etc. Maintaining your steady breath. Remember do not pause to think about the word. Instead, allow the word to materialize before you.
Try this Gratitude Practice
This exercise will work with any topic* you choose. Try this from the Metta Meditation or Loving Kindness Meditation. Starting with the letter A and ending with Z. As always your breathing.
List positive traits describing yourself. List positive traits for someone you care deeply Can be a beloved pet. List deeply positive traits about an acquaintance. List positive traits about someone who annoys the hell out of you (you do not really hate or even dislike them but…).
And finally, because I know how spiritually mature you are, list positive characteristics for someone who you dislike or have difficulty with.
Let’s say ah someone like President Trump for example. Oh, come on I’m kidding. Lighten up. Not all of us are as spirituality advanced as the rest of you.
It is not advisable for beginners (or anyone) to try this with people who you feel extreme difficulty or uncomfortable. If at any time you feel pressured or anxious don’t start hyperventilating. Back up to describing yourself or the person you care about. And breathe.
Much loving-kindness to all each of you.
*List (Strive for 26. Congratulate yourself if you can list at least 5)
Positive affirmations for today
Manifestations (dreams and desires)
People who support your spiritual growth
Spiritual practices you’d like to explore
How do you celebrate life
What makes you laugh
What were the best moments of your day
The beauty of your surroundings in this moment.
Acts of kindness
About The Author
K. Kemah Wilson is a blogger and inspirational writer. Originally from Massachusetts in the United States, Kemah travels throughout the states for her inspiration and spiritual growth. Writing for the Blue Osa blog is her first visit outside the U.S.
“People and our individual and collective experiences are where I gather information and ideas for the topics I choose to write,” states Kemah. “My writing gives voice to those experiences.”
Kemah aspires to start her own spiritual blog in the near future. Reaching out to individuals seeking rest and refuge through her writing.