Guest blog by Emma Seppälä.
We’ve heard that meditation can help with so many things, from focus to sleep. But it also has another tremendously valuable added benefit: it improves our relationships. You may wonder how a seated and isolated activity—after all, even if you’re meditating in a group, you’re not talking to anyone—can help improve your social skills and relationship prowess, but research shows it does. Here’s how.
Around Thanksgiving, I’m drawn to the subject of gratitude and how to put it into practice on a daily basis. I have to admit, I’m not ready for the typical stress of the holiday season and am on a mission to keep the season as stress-free as possible with a mixture of appreciation for all that I have and awareness of all I can give.
Thinking about Thanksgiving prompted me to write this blog. I saved it to my computer, planning to post it online as soon as I got a chance. Then coincidentally I heard a radio interview with psychologist Robert Emmons, author of a book called Thanks. Emmons has spent years studying positive psychology, and in the interview he pointed out that gratitude is more than a tool for self-improvement. “Gratitude is a way of life,” he said, noting how being grateful can improve your health physically as well as mentally.
Many of us long for a life of happiness and peace, but we don’t believe we can have it. The great paradox is that our lack of faith in love and miracles is what blocks us from receiving love and miracles.
If we want to live a miraculous life, we must raise the volume on the loving voice within us and turn down the volume on our fear.
I love good food and celebrations with family and friends. Which makes Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays — it serves up both in spades!
But this Thanksgiving, I did something a little different. Rather than filling my belly with the usual feast, I decided to observe a day of fasting, which I followed up with a donation to our local food bank.
That’s right: a no-food Thanksgiving!
By The FIRM Master Instructor Marguerite O’Brien
While I try to be mindful of the blessings in my life and give thanks on a daily basis, there are times when I am humbled by life’s circumstances and my gratefulness is magnified. I’ve had several experiences recently that I wanted to share with you, in hopes that they will inspire you to take a moment to be present to what is going on around you and give silent thanks for every blessing.
“This food comes from the earth and the sky. It is a gift of the entire universe and the fruit of much hard work; I vow to live a life which is worthy to receive it.” — Grace of the Bodhisattva Buddhists
At the beginning of every yoga class, while we’re sitting in sukhasana, my yoga teacher always says to “give silent gratitude for all the blessings in our lives.” And, even though I am mentally not quite “there” yet — I’m still trying to find my “sit bones” and thinking about my grocery list and how I forgot my daughter’s gym shoes and did I shut the garage door? — usually, I do it. Images of my kids’ faces and my cozy brick house flash through my mind, and if I take time to really think about it (and not about the location of my cute new flats that I hope the dog isn’t eating right now), I realize I have so much to be grateful for: my close, loving family, my friends, my health, my readers, my Dutch oven, fire-roasted Hatch green chilies, pasture butter and the fact that I am rarely hungry.
I am sitting in a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, at the Celebrate Your Life conference. I have the honor of being here to facilitate two workshops and to participate with a number of speakers and teachers who have inspired me over the years. As I sit here, I am bathed in a sea of gratitude for the amazing life that I am privileged to live.
Well, Thanksgiving is here and people are busy preparing for and celebrating the holiday. Wherever you are today, I ask that you join me in giving thanks. I want this time with you to be about practicing gratitude. I am grateful for the opportunity to write and share with you things that are important to me. I am grateful to offer this blog as a place that might be of support and gift you with a remembrance of who you are. I am grateful to be in a position to use my path as a tool for guidance of others.