The Glowing Embers of the Good + Embodied Gratitude

Our newsletter took a little holiday on Thanksgiving last week. If your inbox looked anything like mine, filled to the max with black-Friday and cyber-Monday deals, I bet you didn’t miss us. :)

We had a great holiday at my parents’ home in Woodland with family from near and far.

Though the nationally sanctioned day of gratitude is over, the topic is still on my mind.

This video is a new Ted Talk by the gentle and radiant being, Brother David Steindl-Rast. I just love this guy! He says, “Do you want to be happy? Be grateful.”

Having worked in a more focused way with embodied gratitude practices for the past few years, I can definitely say from my own experience that gratefulness does give rise to happiness, and not the other way around.

In the Embodied Life work, we do a practice called “Cultivating the Field of Gratitude.” At the end of the day, (or any time of the day), I might pause and reflect on any moments in the day where something inside me had a “yes.”

Especially including the abundant kind of moments which usually go by unnoticed.

It can be as simple as the warm feeling of pulling the down comforter up over my shoulders as I roll over in bed on a cold morning like today. Ah.

Or the nice fresh feeling in my mouth after having brushed my teeth. Mm.

Or appreciating the heat, smell, steam, and flavor of my morning cup of coffee. Yum.

Of course “bigger” moments of being touched by sweet and memorable interactions with my son or my beloved are there too. (see cute cousins on a hay bale below) :)

One of our students calls this practice doing her daily “gratitude highlights reel.”

The key with doing this in an embodied way is rather than “doing a drive by” mentally as I review these moments, with each one I pause for a few breaths, and sometimes even say silently to myself, “I’m going to feel that in my body.” It only takes 5-10 seconds more, but the experience is so much more full.

I guarantee that if you tested my blood chemistry before and after doing this practice, there’d be a world of difference. I can feel it.

I invite you to try it in this very moment.

Can you recall so far in your day any moment, even a simple one, which you appreciate?

A hot shower, the good smell of soap, something delicious you tasted, even the feeling of getting to the bathroom when you really have to pee. :)

Then pause and really let yourself take in the experience in a bodily way. Stay with it for 5-10 seconds, sensing the inside of your belly, your chest…

Russell Delman has said that doing this practice can be a profound gift to your immune system. Certainly a lot more fun (and perhaps even more effective) than getting a flu shot.

One of my dear clients and friends, Christina, recently shared with me a blog she wrote about her own practice of Cultivating the Field of Gratitude. She gave me her blessing to share this beautiful passage with you.

“The more awareness I give to a moment, a breath, an interaction, a feeling…the greater my connection to the abundance and richness already present in my life.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t experience challenges. But when something painful or disappointing occurs, it feels easier to recognize how these contrasts bring meaning and compassion to my life versus feeling stuck in a state of self pity or defeat.

There is something wonderfully abundant in realizing the partnership between joy and sorrow, or courage and fear…how the paradoxes of life help to cultivate empathy and act as invitations for more open-hearted living.

There is a sense of ease in remembering that embedded in the less desirable moments are the glowing embers of the good stuff…abundantly present and available, just waiting for me to pause and acknowledge with gratitude.”

I think my favorite line is this:

There is a sense of ease in remembering that embedded in the less desirable moments are the glowing embers of the good stuff…abundantly present and available, just waiting for me to pause and acknowledge with gratitude.

Wow. I find that’s really true.

Winter is often a challenging season for me, and I know I’m not alone in this.

Abundant darkness combined with the yucky polluted air we often have in Salt Lake, and of course – it’s C-C-COLD! I love this image of the glowing embers of goodness being available – just waiting for me to pause, and take them in with gratefulness.

This winter, I’m recommitting to my regular practice of gratitude, and to really feeling it in a bodily way – and invite you to join me if you like. I’d love to hear what you discover.

With love and gratitude,


p.s. I’m so grateful for the wonderful experience of teaching our first official Embodied Life course and sharing it with such an awesome group of human beings. We had the last class of our 12 week journey on Tuesday and I have to say the whole experience was such a gift. We had a little mini-party to celebrate. :) Here’s to embodied living! Yippee!

I’m so grateful to have such an awesome group of women gathering for Women Embodied 2014 which is now full.

And so grateful that this coming weekend, I get to lead another fantastic group of people in a Restorative Retreat at Snowbird’s Cliff Spa. Eucalyptus steam room here I come!

I’m so deeply grateful for my wonderful family and friends, my amazing clients and students, my precious teachers, my health, my work, my life…

And if you’re reading this, I’m also deeply grateful for you.

And I’m going to pause and really feel that in my body.

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By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.

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