By John Schorling
Thanksgiving is a time when many of us pause to note the many things we can be grateful for. In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it’s easy to lose sight of this, especially given the 24 hour news cycle with the nearly constant reminders of all the things that aren’t going well in the world. Yet in the midst of this it’s still possible to pause for a few moments, or longer if we choose, and to intentionally pay attention to the positive things in our lives. Given the inherent negativity bias of the human mind in which we naturally pay attention more to negative than positive stimuli it is important to do this, otherwise we can find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by all that seems to not be right in our lives.
A simple way of practicing gratitude is to close your eyes and take in a few slow deep breaths, noticing the flow of air into the chest, especially into the left side in the region of the heart. Then bring to mind someone, somewhere, or something that you really appreciate or are grateful for and hold this image in the mind. Continue focusing on the image while also paying attention to any sensations arising in the region of the heart. After a few breaths or whenever ready, let go of the image and return the attention to focusing just on the sensations of breathing for several more breaths before opening the eyes again. In addition to frequently resulting in us feeling better, this simple exercise has been shown to have a profound impact on the heart, often significantly increasing heart rate variability which is associated with a lower risk of certain heart problems.
Filed Under: Monthly Musings