I’ve got a story for you today about how I recently reconnected with my gratitude practice. You might be thinking that gratitude is just a buzzword for the Thanksgiving month of November but hang with me to hear my simple method and how I got there.
This year I've been immersed in an Ayurveda Yoga Specialist certification. Back in January, when my training started, I was given a list of daily habits and routines to establish over the year that would help nourish, support, and regularize my energy over the days, weeks, and months.
There were twelve (yes, 12!) suggestions to implement into my mornings. Some were already habitual for me such as “tongue scraping” before brushing my teeth in the morning, drinking room temperature water with a squeeze of lemon before my morning tea, having a consistent yoga, meditation, and pranayama practice, and eating seasonally.
But other suggestions, such as the two at the very top of the list were challenging:
Wake up before the sun rises.
Say a prayer before leaving my bed.
Here's a little background that will help explain these suggestions: both Yoga and Ayurveda are rooted in the same basic philosophy of Sankhya, one of six schools of classical Indian philosophy. According to this ancient philosophy, pre-dawn is considered the time of day when we can connect with what is called, in spiritual language, our Higher Self; the eternal self that existed before you had a name, the self that will continue to exist after your body dies. The idea is that when you wake before dawn, you can more easily sense the “you” that exists underneath all the roles and expectations of your day-to-day life.
I think this is a beautiful concept and I've been aiming to cultivate this very early morning habit for at least 60 percent of my mornings over this past year. Now that it's November, and I have eleven months of experience with this, I can honestly report that I do feel more peaceful and content when I'm awake early and can sit with my true self before jumping into my roles as mom or teacher (roles I love). I can also affirm that it's much easier for me to leave my bed before the sun rises during the warmer months of spring and summer. Now that it's the chilly fall season, I want to stay in my cozy flannel sheets for as long as possible.
Mentioning my flannel sheets is a nice segue to my Gratitude Practice. The second suggestion for my Ayurvedic daily routine was to “say a prayer before leaving bed”. Truthfully, my waking thoughts are not always ones of gratitude and connecting with my Higher Self. My mind tends to venture efficiently toward my "To-Do" list. I've heard from many of my yoga students that when they wake up, they reach for their phones right away, or they immediately pick up their worries from the day before. Can you relate?
The simple suggestion (given to me by my teacher) of counting out five items of gratitude on one hand before getting out of bed has been a wonderful way for me to connect with some inner peace and contentment. It doesn't take a huge amount of time. Nor does it require a special notebook or a pen (which I tend to forget about after some time). Listing five things I'm grateful for always places my energy in the right direction, and helps me feel calm, centered, and connected to something more profound than my action-based “To-Do” list.
My Five Finger Gratitude List from this morning:
Clean drinking water.
My flannel sheets.
My healthy body.
I hope this reminds you that a gratitude practice can be very simple. By the way, the Five Finger Gratitude List is not limited to early, pre-dawn moments. This can be done anytime, and even more than once throughout the day when things are feeling especially difficult.
If you already have a gratitude practice, I'd love to hear about it! If you'd like to commit to starting one, leave me an "I'm committed" in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and for sharing,