Gratefully Aware

Have you ever found yourself stepping outside the confines of your physical being to observe your surroundings; a “Holy shit, am I really here?” moment in which you become a spectatorA sort of out-of-body experience (stay with me) that leaves you feeling amazed and, depending on the surroundings, downright speechless. 

It’s very much a feeling of immense gratitude that comes as a result of being fully aware of the beauty of the present moment; it’s always such a beautiful feeling that carries with it incredible encouragement; it can present itself at any point in time, and at any stage of life, whether you find yourself arms outstretched along the banks of the Han river, or perched atop the Slieve Bloom mountains, or anywhere in between for that matter.

As nourishing and fulfilling as these moments most certainly are, they escape us far too often, passing by almost unnoticed. It’s one of the side-effects we endure as a result of ploughing through our days on auto-pilot, blindly counting down to the next big thing, whilst living a reactionary, drone-like existence; we can never fully appreciate the beauty of our surroundings and the magic that exists in the present moment.

It can certainly be difficult to bring ourselves back, to recognise what’s going on around us and heighten our sense of awareness in order to appreciate the now. One interesting practice that I came across in an incredible little book entitled “No Mud, No Lotus”, is this idea of being able to recognise and appreciate the happy moments in our day to day lives as and when they occur. For instance, if and when we experience something that makes us feel good, we would literally say the words “This is a happy moment” aloud, thereby recognising the moment for what it is, allowing ourselves to feel good, and to revel in the beauty of that moment.

Another intriguing practice which was suggested to me before the turn of the new year, was the gratitude jar. I’m sure some of you have heard of it before; maybe you’ve seen it on Pinterest or perhaps have practiced it in the past, but I’ll briefly explain the idea for the purposes.

Each and every day you write something that you are grateful for on a post-it note, then you pop it in your jar, and at the end of the year you take them all out and have a read. 

I choose to do it first thing in the morning, and haven’t managed to miss a day yet; I find that I usually get through January relatively blemish free in terms of being able to keep up the resolutions, so time will tell on that front.

It’s certainly the highlight of the morning though, being able to reflect on the previous day and just take a moment to think of something- or someone- that I am thankful for. I find it really helps to bring forth a positive frame of mind, and puts me on a good footing for the day ahead. Not only that, but it also affords me with an opportunity to check in with the self, to really stop and appreciate all that I have, and to consider what it is that is truly important.

Indeed, the act of expressing gratitude can contribute positively towards our health and wellbeing. Not only does exercising it make you feel good, but it also provides you with a fresh perspective, and a more positive outlook. You may even find yourself becoming more aware throughout the day as a result, emerging slowly and steadily from auto-pilot mode in those “Holy shit” moments, allowing for a greater appreciation of the magic of the universe; the instances that simply take your breath away.