I noticed this tendency with both resignation and recognition. I’m approaching 70. I still have a lot of work to do with the Medicine Woman tradition. But I’m learning that the days of being able to make a long drive, hold a circle all day, then drive home again… those days may be numbered.
Perhaps, just maybe, I may need to build in less movement and more rest.
There are also stressors in my personal life. My grown son returned home due to COVID. My stepmother and my mother are both aging simultaneously. The effort to see that they are each get the support and care they need consumes my energy. Those long walks I used to enjoy are more of a luxury these days than I care to admit.
My blood pressure sometimes goes up. I am stressed, which depletes the immune system. Though it’s true my spiritual work and practice sustain me and increase my resilience, there is another thing which helps me, too.
A gratitude practice.
You’ll recall that I’ve spoken about gratitude in the past. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way toward curing a whole lot of what ails you.
And while the priestess in me understand that what we focus on grows, and that a gratitude journal creates more Good in our lives, science agrees that its effects are both dramatic and lasting.
Here are some of the good effects of a gratitude practice when its’ used every day.
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved immune function
- Better sleep patterns
- Reduces lifetime risk of depression
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces substance abuse disorders
- Improves resililency
- Decreases suicides
- Gratitude also helps us choose behaviors that benefit our lives.
When we practice gratitude, we tend to
- Exercise more
- Eat better
- Smoke/Drink Less
- Take better care of ourselves
What I have learned is that gratitude isn’t just for Thanksgiving. Gratitude helps me celebrate the present moment. Live isn’t something that just passes me by, but it’s something that I can appreciate. Gratitude helps me appreciate my friends and family. It brings new opportunities to shop up fully in my practice. It focuses me on the positives in any situation. Gratitude helps my heart.
One scientist, Robert Emmons, says that ““Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret and depression, which can destroy our happiness.”
Spiritual women know that toxicity is the enemy of our hearts and health. Other physical benefits of expressing gratitude include
- Increased good cholesterol and decreased bad cholesterol
- Reduced cortisol
- Lower blood pressure at rest and under stress
- A state of harmony in the nervous system and heart rate
- Mental clarity
- Improved kidney function
- Decreased cardiac inflammation and heart disease
Here are 4 ways to establish a simple, successful gratitude practice that can help you protect your mental, emotional and physical health.
- Recognize what you’re grateful for, acknowledge it, and appreciate it
- Start a daily gratitude journal and count your blessings
- Set aside time daily to recall moments of gratitude
- Write letters of gratitude and feel more optimistic