Often it is the little things that count the most.
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk and Zen teacher. says that when you create the intention to be grateful at bedtime, it makes you more mindful during the whole day. You will automatically start tuning into the many beautiful little moments of kindness, love and goodness, i.e. the moments of grace that otherwise would have flown by without ever noticing them. Gratefulness cultivates mindfulness… and grace-fullness.
Brother David uses the word ‘gratefulness’ in lieu of gratitude, because gratefulness creates the great fullness of life. You can read this article on his website, “ Practicing Gratitude”.
Dr. Rick Hanson teaches that if we stay with such experiences for a good 15-20 seconds, we create new synapses, thereby hard-wiring ourselves for happiness, or “installing the good”. He explains that we easily miss these moments of beauty, awe, and goodness because our brains are evolutionarily designed to first notice the negative in order to protect us.
And as a bonus, a variety of studies now show that gratitude is a fabulous soporific! If you count your blessings, you won’t have to count sheep. If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, chances are you are ruminating about something that has already happened, worrying about something in the future, or just plain wound up from the day’s events.
Try this instead.
First, become aware of your present surroundings… the gentle support of your mattress, the coolness of your sheets, the suppleness of your pillow, the warmth of your comforter.
Pay attention to your breath. Allow it to become full and even.
Say to yourself, “I am safe. I am calm. I am loved.”
Now spend a moment or two musing about the experiences of your day, and try to recapture a “Grace-Fullness moment” – a wondrous instant that day, e.g. the way the sunlight shining on a tree evoked a sense of beauty and awe, or someone in the grocery store, who looked so sad, but caught your eye and then smiled in a moment of true connection. Remember and savor this experience so it becomes part of you. You’ll be rewiring your brain, recharging your heart and uplifting your mood. Grateful cultivates GraceFull…every time.