5 Ways to Make Gratitude Benefit Your Health

A popular concept on Facebook these days is to post a daily “Attitude of Gratitude” item. I love this because it makes us stop and think about what we have to be grateful for. There’s actually quite a large amount of scientific evidence available that people who practice gratitude as part of their lifestyle enjoy more well-being than others.

How Gratitude Affects Health

Research from the UK’s Manchester University School of Psychology turned up proof that gratitude can be a stronger indicator of health and happiness than any other character trait. A recent study showed that participants who paid a gratitude visit to someone whom they felt grateful to benefited from a significant increase in their happiness level and a corresponding drop in depression scores.

When we make practicing gratitude a part of our daily routine, it helps us achieve a life full of joy, passion and grace. Here’s how:

#1: Keep a Journal

attitude of gratitudeIt’s easy to forget the things we have to be grateful for, especially as we get older. Make a point of writing down three things every day, and review the journal whenever you’re feeling down. This helps to remind you of how fortunate you are. It also helps to keep you positive and inspires you when you need it. Various studies have shown that when participants recorded what they were grateful for, they achieved lasting improvement in their happiness score.

#2: Express Feelings of Appreciation

When you’re grateful for something, say so. Not only will it help the recipient of your gratitude to understand and benefit from your appreciation, but it will also help to “cement” it in your own subconscious mind. The best way to get more is to give more, and unless you show your gratitude to others they aren’t likely to show theirs to you. So it works both ways.

#3: Walk the Talk

Talking about your gratitude and appreciation is great, but you’ll benefit even more if you walk the talk. Choose someone whose actions have affected your life in a positive way and pay them a gratitude visit. Think of a way to acknowledge them specially for what they’ve done. This could be picking some wild flowers and taking them along, baking a special treat or singing outside their window. As long as your intention is to bring them unsolicited joy, you’ll both benefit.

#4: Look for the Good

There’s a saying in business that goes “Don’t look for things your staff are doing wrong; try to catch them doing something right.” You can apply this to your Attitude of Gratitude, too, by looking for opportunities to express gratitude or appreciation. Be aware of chances to acknowledge those around you, and seize those opportunities to say “thank you” to them.

#5: Remind Yourself Regularly

When life gets in the way and things become crazy, it’s easy to forget the good stuff that you have going on. That’s where your journal can come in useful. Even if you aren’t necessarily able to sit and review it, however, reminding yourself how fortunate you are and taking the time to “count your blessings” will lift your spirits and pull you out of a negative slump. And once your blood is pumping, your heart is singing and you’re at peace with the world, you’ll find you infect others the same way and the blessings will flow back to you.

Try it today. Practice an “attitude of gratitude” for a week and see how it makes you feel.

Choose the Right Type of Meditation to Achieve Your Full Potential

The practice of meditation has been gaining ground in the west for the past couple of decades. This is partly a response to the spiritual awakening that’s occurring and partly because Westerners are becoming increasingly jaded with the constant treadmill of their lives. Meditation is seen as a way to combat stress, a form of relaxation and a path to self-knowledge and improved health.

There are several different types of meditation, however, and for the uninitiated it might be difficult to know where to start. As a spiritual life coach, I’m a strong believer in meditation for the purpose of getting in touch with my higher self, so I’ve put together some details of the most common forms to give you an idea.

Mindfulness

types of meditationThis is a form of meditation based on the Buddhist Vipassana tradition, which is rapidly becoming the popular meditation practice in the West. It’s founded on the idea of being present in the moment, allowing your mind to accept things as opposed to fighting them.

Mindfulness is particularly helpful for detaching yourself from problems such as chronic pain and stress, and is used in healthcare to create a “partnership of care” between medical providers and patients. You meditate by focusing on breathing awareness and body scanning to release tension.

Some critics believe mindfulness is giving rise to avoidance of critical issues, by giving you an excuse and a way to “escape” from necessary analysis rather than face up to issues.

Kundalini

Named after the rising stream of energy that exists in our being, the purpose of Kundalini is to be aware of the stream and to ride it to infinity. By focusing on the way your breath flows through each of the body’s energy centres, you make active use of the breath to move the energy upwards.

The Yogi Bhahan, who founded this method of meditation, developed hundreds of different meditations each customized for specific circumstances. It includes meditations to reduce stress, cure addictions, enhance vitality and clear the chakras, among others. Kundalini contains practical tools to support the mind and body, and it’s best to work with a teacher for this type of meditation.

Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental meditation (TM) is practiced from a seated position and includes the use of a mantra or a series of Sanskrit words to help you focus, instead of just following your breathing. The purpose is to encourage inner peace and wellness by allowing your mind to settle, quiet your thoughts and experience a pure form of consciousness. It’s a deeply restful experience that rejuvenates your mind and body, and leads to a wide range of benefits in your daily life.

Guided Visualization

Visualization is often used to achieve personal or professional goals. It can be a recorded instructions for you to follow, or it can be a guided meditation by a teacher or experienced practitioner. The process often contains elements of hypnotic suggestion, or gives you the chance to conjure up fantasies or picture a desired state or achievement. It’s untested as a method of spiritual development, but has shown good motivational results particularly in the business world. 

Zazen (Zen)

The name means “seated” meditation, and this is the form of meditation practiced by Zen Buddhist monks. It follows the idea that you gain insight from observing your breathing and your mind, and the purpose is to achieve insight and enlightenment based on the teachings of Buddhism. The process often includes a degree of contemplation, focused on a “koan” or an aspect of Buddhist scripture.

Qi Gong

This method of meditation comes from the Taoist movement, and uses the breath to circulate energy through the body in an orbital pattern. You focus on three main centres of your body to direct the energy.

There are many ways to relax and meditate, these are just a few. Whatever method you choose, it’s essential to commit yourself to daily practice or you won’t enjoy the benefits of meditation. If you don’t have time to practice regularly, something that helps even me is to meditate while you are doing the chores. For example:

  • While you wash the dishes feel the energy of the water, breathe, clear your mind and enjoy the present!
  • As you see the food being cleared from the dishes, imagine you are clearing your mind.
  • Clear out all the unwanted chatter, and see the divine light flow like the water into your body.

This will help you enjoy your daily chores instead of dreading them! Enjoy each moment to the fullest, no matter how small something seems.

Find your groove and be inspired to achieve balance in your mind, body, spirit and emotions today.