REMEDY: GRATITUDE GROUNDED IN INTENTION
PHOTO BY AERAN SQUIRES
ESSAY BY ALISON ZNAMIEROWSKI
We have descended into the darkest depths of winter. For many, January can be a difficult month on the body, mind, heart, and spirit. Perhaps our minds have begun wandering from the present moment into the wells of imagined spring, lusting for its warmth and vibrant colors and potential. It can be helpful to remind ourselves that spring is on the horizon, that this moment is transient, that the seasons will continue in their ancient cycle. But it can also cause us anxiety when we pull too far away from the present. Danielle LaPorte wrote, “Interrupt anxiety with gratitude.” So if you find yourself getting anxious with cabin fever, or disconnected from the abundant offerings of the here and now, this exercise in gratitude may help ground you in intentional living.
Breathe deeply. Close your eyes and relax your shoulders. Notice the sensations: what does it feel like to inhabit your body?
Ask yourself: what do I need to do to fully, physically arrive in this moment? It helps me to consider the elements in this question. Do I need… Air? I could bundle up and take a walk outside, allowing the cold, alive air to remind me of my aliveness. Water? I could run myself a hot bath and let the waters pool into every crevice of my being, sparking each exposed cell. Fire? I could cook myself a hot pot of soup on the woodstove to warm and nourish me from the inside. Earth? I could put on a favorite playlist and dance, planting my feet into the earth and focusing on this deep connection.
When you feel embodied through this practice, turn your focus to gratitude. Gratitude for the way that things are in any given moment invites our entire perspective to shift into one of empowered appreciation. When we acknowledge that which we are grateful for, we are energetically choosing those things. Gratitude does not need to center around the things that are easily recognized as ‘good’—there is much to be grateful for within struggle, pain, and shadow. Every situation, event, and person in our life can be recognized as a teacher or as an invitation to delve deeper, to understand ourselves, and to embody our personal power.
Make a juicy list of the things in your life for which you hold gratitude. Savor it. Let it wash over you.
Consider following up that gratitude with action. Are you grateful for your new friend’s willingness to form deep, authentic connection with you? Tell them so. Are you grateful for the ocean? Grab a trash bag and bring it out to the beach to pick up litter. Are you grateful to have access to health-full foods? Consider volunteering at your local food kitchen or pantry. Action helps to affirm or amplify the gratitude, and reminds us that we are active players in our lives. We get to choose the way we impact this world.