By Andi Pyatt
“The Well” is a recurring column to remind us of the power we possess in mind, body and spirit.
Gratitude is a feeling and process that is best practiced within the moment. Especially, in the moments that challenge us. It is in this contrast that we find our greatest lessons. Over the past two weeks I have been particularly attentive to my ongoing practice of giving thanks. The world has been holding its breath for the past four years which culminated in a worry filled few days as the fate of one of the world’s most influential countries was decided. The anxiety and worry were palpable. Many people described experiencing feelings of being unable to move, eat, or sleep as the election process for the forty-sixth president of the United States seemed to drag-on in front the entire world. I too experienced difficulty managing my angst over the past few weeks. Needing to release this energy I returned to keeping a gratitude journal. I am constantly expressing feelings of appreciation, however, recording and writing these feelings allows for the experience of higher vibrations. In October I began keeping a small journal that I keep near or on my person throughout the day. Each time a feeling of concern arose, I released the feeling by recording three affirmations of thanks in my journal. Last Thursday the nation spoke, loud and clear, to embrace change from the past four years of leadership. That day I woke with a feeling of lightness I had not experienced in a while. I knew change was in the air. I danced my way through the entire day beginning each journal entry with “I am grateful for Black Women”. These six words hold an indescribable power which has led to and will continue to lead to not only our personal growth, but also to growth of our society as we have seen in the past week.
There have been multiple studies on the power of gratitude. These studies have revealed that expressing and receiving the energy of thanks improves physical, mental, and emotional health of those who participate in the expression. When we focus our energy on what we have as opposed to what we lack, we restructure not only our individual and collective mindset, but also our biochemical make-up. An important aspect of gratitude is that it does not have to be expressed once we have received something from another. In fact, an important aspect of gratitude begins with appreciation of what we have prior to receiving it. Another integral aspect is to practice gratitude regularly. The more you bring awareness to and accept this state of being, the more it will become a major component of your spiritual psyche. Need a jump start? Practice two of these methods of cultivating gratitude each week (I caution you to be prepared for major positive life changes).
Meditate/ Pray– Find a place to be still for a few moments. Begin to send thanks to all the people, places, things, feelings, lessons in your current environment. The beauty of this practice is that it is easily done in the moment. All you need is the awareness of presence.
Send thanks in the spirit– Take a moment to reflect on a person in your mental space. Send thoughts and feelings of gratitude directly to them. Remember to do this not only with those who have brought you joy, but also to those with whom you may feel conflict. That conflict has been a valuable lesson for your growth. Don’t allow surface feelings to distract you from your abundance.
Keep a gratitude journal– This is my personal favorite practice. I enjoy the connection of thinking, feeling, and writing. Journaling is a great practice which allows a person to revisit their thoughts and feelings in past moments.
Send a thank note– New Year’s Eve of 2019 my dear friend hosted a party in which all the guests wrote gratitude letters to themselves. It was a brilliant practice. Throughout 2020 she mails the attendees letter to them. A few months ago, I received a gratitude letter to myself from myself. It was a perfect reminder of who I was, am, and continue to be. Another beautiful practice is to write a brief thank you note to those who have impacted your life. It is a beautiful analog gesture of love and joy in this digital world.
Lately, I have been thanking all the black women in my space in a more deliberate manner. As a black woman I have always been grateful for the amazing and brilliant women who surround me. I am because of them. Take a moment today to engage in a deliberate gratitude practice. You will find your mood improved and spirit a tad bit lighter just after one practice. During this practice be sure to send thanks to a black woman, the energy that has built, sustained, and nurtured this country since its inception.
Andi Pyatt is an educator, entrepreneur, wellness professional, and author (Julia Belle) of the new children’s book, Sunflower’s Breath. She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology/Neuroscience from Williams College and a graduate degree in Health Science from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
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