What Are You Grateful For?
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, even though I know that November also heralds cold weather and the possibility of snow-ugh! It’s a real Catch-22 for me. I love the family get togethers and the idea of a special day (or month) set aside to ponder and be grateful for our blessings, yet I hate being cold, wearing coats, and driving in the snow and ice.
I decided this year that my goal will be to stay in the moment as much as possible, being grateful for a wonderful life, without straying into the future, worrying about the temperature, or wishing the sun would stay in the sky longer.
So you’re probably wondering how I intend to accomplish this lofty goal! Well lately I’ve been running into the concept of ‘mindfulness’ everywhere I go. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of “Full Catastrophe Living”, mindfulness is as simple as being aware of what you’re doing while you’re doing it. He also uses an image that I really like-creating an island of being in the sea of constant doing. But, how do I manage to be instead of do? Simple...by paying attention to my breath.
Most of you are probably familiar with meditation, and may even have a daily practice. Kabat-Zinn teaches us to meditate by focusing on the breath, noticing how each inhale fills our belly, and how the exhale leaves it. See, I said it was simple, but I didn’t say it was easy! Most of us are very invested in our thoughts. We believe them and become driven by them. In meditation, we learn to observe them and let them go, returning our attention to the breath each time we realize we’ve given the attention to our thoughts.
For the month of November, I plan to take mini breath-breaks throughout the day. Each time I come back to the present moment through my breath, I am prolonging and enhancing the experience of the month of Gratitude. Not to mention that I’m not dwelling on how cold I am or may be soon!
Join me in January for a mindfulness experience at Healthy Mind Counseling Services - details coming soon!
Contributed by Dr. Annie Wills