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“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl Rast

The Power of Gratefulness

A note from Erin

A note from Erin:
This August, I’m happy to be offering a fresh version of my online course, Embody Gratitude. Part of why I love to offer this course is because I see the big magic that happens when we grow our gratitude. I see it in my own life and in others. And holy wow, do we need it NOW!!! Don’t we?! I do. Big time. The structure of a course helps me to recommit to not just the attitude, but the actual practice of gratitude. And of course, in this course, we don’t just make gratitude lists – we focus on how it lives in our bodies.

I’ve dropped the price to half of what it was last year, (so it’s just $50), in the hopes it makes it an easy “YES!” for you.
I believe the world desperately needs more grateful people. 

 

gratefulnessmakeshappy

Have you been waking in the night too? Or trying to avoid the news because it’s all just too much?

The violence; the mess that is the refugee crisis; impending warfare and political upheaval; global climate crisis in the news, and all the associated fear and rancor… it’s a lot to hold. This list doesn’t even include personal struggles with health, loved ones, finances, losses, or any of that. Many of my clients wonder why their shoulders hover up around their ears, and marvel at how everyone around them is so anxious and stressed out.
Because our brains are oriented to receive the abundant positive, beautiful, and simple, abundant goodness in our lives like teflon (non-stick, baby) and to receive the negative, scary, dangerous stuff like velcro (it sticks like crazy!), it’s so damn easy to become overwhelmed. 

SO EASY!! Isn’t it? Sheesh. We need fiercely determined gratitude practices now more than ever.

Knowing about this velcro/teflon brain dynamic has helped me a lot over the years. No blame – that’s simply how our brains are oriented. However, it’s important to know that we can shift our default settings. We can change our brains for the better. Just knowing about it doesn’t shift it. Embodied practice does. Intentional cultivation does. Conscious repetition does.

You get good at what you practice. I bet if you’re like most people I know (myself included), you’ve been practicing stressing out lately. I think it’s imperative we take time to practice consciously slowing down, noticing what’s NOT wrong, being grateful, sending compassion to the parts of us that are stressed, and remembering we can be spacious, grounded, and present, and engage the world from there. It’s totally doable for ordinary people like us. But it takes practice.

 

sufficient gratitude

Why is growing gratefulness important? I used to be one of those people who avoided the news. (I still don’t watch it. I read it on my NPR app or elsewhere online.) Years ago I used to think it was ok for me to  bow out of the larger world and live consciously in my own world. I don’t think that anymore for myself. I want to help. I want to leave the world better than I found it. And if I don’t know what’s going on, I can’t be of much help. But if I get overwhelmed by the negativity (why thanks, inner velcro!) I can’t be of help. 

I believe I need to grow my inner resources enough so that I can show up with courage; so I can see as clearly as I can what’s going on; and so that I can take action that feels aligned to my heart.  I take it as my task to receive the beauty of my life so fully that I can truly open my heart to the atrocities. It takes intentional willingness to notice the beauty and goodness. And it takes a simple but courageous pause to feel the gratefulness in my body. I believe it’s an essential practice for our times.

What this class is NOT intended to be: It’s not an invitation for people of privilege to feel better so we can ignore what’s challenging in the world; so we can ignore the suffering of other beings, human and non-human, who need our support and care.

I’m not interested in supporting privileged ignorance and simply “feeling good.” This class is intended to be a support for your showing up in your life with enough gratitude as fuel that you can be a source of genuine benefit in your community in whatever ways call to you.To live with enough gratitude that you’re able to welcome your own suffering and that of the world with a courageous, kind heart.

How can we tune in to the news without falling into a puddle of despair?  Someone wrote in a recent article I found hilarious: Trust me, I get it, pretty much every day I hit a period where I’m like, “The best thing I can do right now would be to drink whiskey until I stop recognizing the world,” but I don’t, because I have to stay sharp.”  I can relate. And I also believe we have to stay sharp. Gratitude practice can help us do so.

Read what past participants in my Embody Gratitude Course have said about their experience here. 

I love Brene Brown’s work, and especially the heart and humor she brings to her presentation of her research. I’ve been thinking this week about something she said. First, her research revealed that all the people she interviewed who described themselves as joyful attributed it to their practice of gratitude. She said she used to think, “Sure, grateful people are grateful because of the joyful lives they have!” But the reverse is actually true. It was their active cultivation of gratefulness that gave rise to their joy, and they knew it.

She also said that it’s the practice and not just the attitude that makes a difference. She jokes that she has a very “yoga attitude.” She feels in alignment with the principles, she thinks it’s a great system, she even wears yoga pants. But, as she says with a laugh, “I have a yoga attitude. I don’t have a yoga practice.” It’s the practice that makes the difference in how our bodies, our brains, and our lives change. This is true of gratitude as well. I often have an attitude of gratitude. It’s such a good idea, I believe in it, I know it works. But, truthfully, I go in and out of having a regular PRACTICE of gratitude. When I do? It makes SUCH a difference in my world. It so powerfully changes my outlook, the state of my nervous system, my interactions. Even if I have financial struggles, a messy house, longing for things that aren’t happening, relationship or health challenges….when I have an active practice of gratitude, it truly changes everything. It’s like when Dorothy arrives in Oz and suddenly everything is in color instead of black and white. I swear, for me it’s like magic.

As poet Ross Gay says,
“I want to rub everything with the sponge of gratitude.”
I do too. Want to join me?

 

EmbodyGratitude

I’d love to extend a warm invitation for you to join me over 4 weeks in August to nurture an embodied gratitude practice in a supportive online community.  I’m delighted that many participants have joined for each of the past 3 years I’ve offered the course. It’s new and powerful every time. I’ve created it to be a spacious, potent class. We start on Monday, August 7th and class runs for 4 weeks. 

Each Monday you’ll receive a short audio/video lesson I make just for the class along with invitations to practice during the week.

Each Wednesday, you’ll receive a little booster, (I call it a shot of gratitude-espresso) which is usually a poem that inspires me like crazy.

Each Friday we have a brief opportunity for check in and review, as well as for renewing our intentions to keep practicing.

It doesn’t take a huge amount of time, but it makes a damn big difference in your life.  All you need is a decent internet connection. You can access the course materials anytime, at your convenience, and you’ll have access to the online classroom for a full year. And it’s just $50!

And of course, if the timing isn’t right for you to join us in the class, I hope you’ll still grow your gratitude practice on your own! It’s such a worthy cultivation. Especially when your inner critic isn’t driving the practice.

With practice, the passing state of gratitude can become a trait that is simply part of how and who you are: A grateful person. 

Below is a favorite poem I thought you might enjoy. By Mary Oliver, of course.

 

More Honey Locust

 

Any day now

the branches

of the honey locust

will be filled

with white fountains;

in my hands

I will see

the holy seeds

and a sweetness

will rise up

from those petal-bundles

so heavy

I must close my eyes

to take it in,

to bear

such generosity….

I hope that you too

know the honey locust,

the fragrance

of those fountains;

and I hope that you too will pause

to admire the slender trunk,

the leaves, the holy seeds,

the ground they grow from

year after year

with striving and patience;

and I hope that you too

will say a word of thanks

for such creation

out of the wholesome earth,

which would be, and dearly is it needed,

a prayer for all of us.

 
May you too pause to close your eyes and take it in, to bear such generosity.
May you too say a word of thanks for such creation, as dearly is it needed, for all of us. 
Especially now. 
 

With much love and optimism, in spite of it all,
Erin 

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You can register right here.

 

 

Warmly,

Erin & Carl

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