I know that being out in nature is good for me. Really good for me.
I know it, but I don’t always do it. Often I let comfort and apathy rule the show, especially as autumn progresses and more wintry weather greets us. This can leave me feeling guilty about not doing what’s good for me. An unpleasant and futile little dance.
The other day I was inspired to do two things that are infinitely good for me: get out in nature and practice gratitude.
I was busy but made time for a stop-off, en route to a meeting, via the supermarket. If I can find 10 minutes to answer a pointless email, or read a Facebook post, I can find 10 minutes for this.
I was dressed in heals for my meeting but I tottered into the woods and soon took them off. I stood in my bare feet and faced the sun. The breeze was gentle and musical in the rushes surrounding the nearby pond. The ground was cool and squidgy under my feet.
There I stood, paused from the busy-ness of my day, connected to the ground, feeling the warmth of the sun. Not rushing through the world, but stopping and feeling it. And I felt into what I am grateful for in my life: the obvious things of my home and daughter, friends, family and health, but also my challenges and the things I don’t have. Because the things I don’t have but desire to have one day, well they are the things I am not ready for yet. And I’m grateful that they aren’t on my plate when I don’t have space for them.
You may have heard the term gratitude practice before and thought that you get it. You know it’s good to appreciate what you have, so you get it, right?
But as with many of these practices, that in some way offer to improve our lives, it’s not about getting it. It’s not about knowing what it means and understanding it in your head.
It’s about feeling it.
In fact, it’s all about feeling. We love people because it feels good. We make all our choices based on how it feels – or how we don’t want it to feel.
And true gratitude feels so good that “negative” feelings don’t stand a chance, not in their corrosive form anyway. When infused with gratitude, it might be that the underlying message that the anxiety/ guilt/ fear/ whatever shows up as, transforms into clarity around a choice you can make.
Cultivate a gratitude practice.
To feel it, not just get it, can absolutely happen spontaneously. But it can also be cultivated through practice, and when you cultivate it, it becomes a skill you can reply on. Like playing the piano. You can turn to it and enjoy it at will.
It takes practice because really connecting to our feelings isn’t always easy. From the head to the heart can be a long road.
Ask yourself what you are grateful for and your head will come up with a list. That’s a great start.
Now feel your heart. Put all your attention in the heart area of your body. Ask your heart. What is your heart grateful for?
Don’t overthink it, just feel and ask. Feel the answer. It may well be the same answer/s. Enjoy whatever comes up from your heart.
Feel the gratitude. What does it to you? Make you smile? Make you want to dance? Want to give? Want to share? When you cultivate gratitude it radiates out of you.
Give yourself 5-10 minutes. If you can do it when others ask it of you, you can do it when you ask it of yourself.
Connect to nature, to the world. Feel your feet on the ground (barefoot if possible) and the air on your skin.
Travel from your head to your heart. Feel it. What are you grateful for, that you have and that you don’t have?
Enjoy feeling it. Enjoy radiating it out.
Practice. Cultivate it. 5 minutes a day will have you actually feeling what it is that those “inspirational” (and often time-wasting) facebook posts actually mean.