March 25, 2016

This is Better Than a Gratitude Practice.

It has been documented that cultivating a gratitude practice in the morning has tremendous mental and emotional benefits.

I used to wake up each morning and count all of the things for which I was grateful.

These days, the gratitude comes a lot more naturally to me.

I have set my life on fire. I fell in love with somebody that I admire, respect, honour and appreciate right down to the depths of my soul.

Most mornings, I wake up in his arms. After two years of growing pains together, I am still overwhelmed with veneration; completely awe-struck that we have found each other, and that I have been given the honour of waking up next to him again. In the silence of the morning, my mind quiets but my heart is singing. I breathe him in; my fingertips graze the soft hair above his ears. A small smile finds its way to my lips. Time stops just for me to attend to this moment of sweet space, before the madness of the busy day begins.

Still, some mornings, I don’t wake up with him. We are full-time travelers, and have been since we met. We each have an incurable itch to explore and push ourselves to grow—both together and alone.

This means that some mornings, I wake up on foreign soil without him. I have made it a practice to wake up before the sun, find a quiet space outdoors under the stars, and appreciate the dawn of the new day. No matter where I’m at mentally, these moments are filled with recognition of the prosperity of my life. Of course, I am thankful for the incredible sights I am seeing, the people I am meeting, the history I am learning, and the ideas I am coming across. But more than that, I’m thankful for my own ability to push past fear, reach outside of my comfort zone time after time for the benefit of my own self growth. Completely linked with this ability is my partner’s ability to set me free. Our happiness, our dreams, our peace, and our joy are intertwined—so when I’m finding all of this beauty in my travels, his heart soars with mine. Within the connectedness of our relationship, I feel free.

And yet, some mornings, I wake up at home with him miles away. Admittedly, this is much more difficult. Going about our normal routine together by myself makes me miss him terribly. Still, with time I have learned to find strength in this, too. As mornings turn into weeks without him, my intuition deepens. Spending time alone allows me the space to dig deeper, reconnecting with my own internal voice—I am lead by nothing but my own heart. In these days, I make more of an effort to speak with family and friends back in my home country; I put myself out there more, endeavouring to fulfill my needs for connection with others outside of our relationship. My yoga practice comes easier because there’s no one to tempt me back into bed, or out on an adventure, leaving my responsibilities behind. I return to myself.

It’s one thing to count all of the things for which you are grateful, and I still believe this is a powerful, beneficial practice. But I think it takes guts to look all of your fears straight in the face, and actively create a life, intertwined with another’s or alone, that makes your heart soar each and every moment.

When we’re living our lives to the fullest, gratitude becomes our effortless, natural state.


Author: Alexandra Birrell

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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