Gratitude + 4-7-8 Pranayama.

As I write this evening, I’m in the middle of cooking for a little dinner get together with a close friend. I’m having to double-up tasks from my to-do list lately because my cup is overwhelmingly full. I wouldn’t have it any other way at the moment because everything I’m currently investing my time in, I truly love to do. I also know that my schedule wont be like this forever and during the holidays I usually take a step back to relax.

All that being said I’ve also noticed, as grateful as I am with my life, I’ve been consuming myself in negative thoughts at times. Its as if I don’t allow myself to just fully enjoy where I am at. My schedule is filled with self-care, teaching yoga and fitness, working full time as a Digital Marketer, and spending a majority of my free time investing in my close relationships with friends, my partner, and my dog. I’m grateful quarantine has allowed me the space to find out where I want to truly spend my time. But….

I find myself thinking of how things could go wrong & I know A LOT of us do this to ourselves. It’s as if we’re waiting for the bottom to fall out somehow. And this is not healthy! I was watching one of my online trainings for my 300 Hour YTT program last night and our lead instructor was saying how we need to be careful with what we’re manifesting.

Read that last sentence again.

Wow. This really made me stop and think. Because it isn’t just the good we’re looking to manifest (promotions, raises, good news) but our negative thoughts will also manifest situations that we may not want! And this is what I’m currently guilty of. I find myself pausing in moments & being overwhelmed with how much I love my life and then just as quickly have negative scenarios creep into my thoughts because “life can’t be perfect”. But, yes, it can! We can appreciate how much we enjoy our lives when things are really good. We shouldn’t feel guilty for being grateful and fear that it won’t stay that way. Change is definitely inevitable but we have the right to appreciate the moments we’re in.

So, if you’re like me, and find yourself feeling guilty for appreciating your life, I encourage you to pause and enjoy the below pranayama practice when fear is attempting to rob you of your momentary happiness.

Breath Work:

The following pranayama practice is one of my favorites to practice & teach. It is referred to as the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

  1. empty the lungs of air.
  2. breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds.
  3. hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds.
  4. exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds.
  5. repeat the cycle up to 4 times.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique can also help to decrease anxiety, sleep better, manage food cravings and control emotional responses like anger.

How to start Gratitude Journaling.

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I’ve been holding onto this post for a while. It hasn’t felt like the right time to publish it until now.

The world will constantly be a combination of good and bad. And man, does it feel like there is a lot of heavy situations going on lately. But I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of good in this world as well. I know it might not feel that way as we watch the news, listen to the radio, or scroll through our social media feeds lately. But we can always focus on the good in the world and there are always good things to focus on.

Read that last sentence again.

A baby is being born, a close friend gets engaged, a family member beats cancer, or it’s simply sunny and beautiful outside. If you’ve been around here a while you know I’m also one to tell you not to bury your emotions but there is a way to process your emotions and turn those heavier feelings into something to be grateful for. I’ve been re-reading Tim Desmond’s ‘How To Stay Human In a F*cked Up World. I purchased it this last fall when I was going through a very difficult time period. For most people, sometimes it feels imposible to get through certain situations in life but personally, I find enlightenment in focusing on progress, even if it is the tiniest step of progression. So I purchased this book and it continues to be one of my staples I pull off the shelf and skim through.

Desmond mentions that ‘bringing up pain and holding it with compassion leads to transformation’. You can sit with this said pain through meditation but another way is gratitude journaling. I’m a big fan of journaling as a practice to process emotions, make decisions, and work through trama. I’m also a big fan of gratetitude journaling for difficult times so you don’t feel the world is weighing down so much on you.

Below is a few prompts that can help start a gratitude journaling practice. All you need is a pen and paper then allow the prompts to guide you in topics to write about. Not only does gratitude journaling take your mind off negative or impactful thoughts but it allows you to focus on things that will bring your mind enjoyment and actively releases stress and tension from the body.

Prompts:

  1. Someone you are grateful for
  2. A food you are grateful for
  3. A place you really love
  4. A treasured experience
  5. A skill you are grateful for
  6. A teacher or mentor who made a large impact in your life
  7. A trip you love to look back on
  8. A meal or dessert you can’t get enough of
  9. Your favorite birthday or holiday memory
  10. Your favorite books you’ve read
  11. A lesson you learn that made an impact
  12. Your favorite movies
  13. Your favorite smells
  14. Someone who believes in you
  15. Your favorite place
  16. Your favorite pet
  17. A activity you love to do
  18. Music that makes you happy to listen to
  19. Something that relaxes you
  20. An activity that makes you feel alive
  21. Your favorite memory from your childhood
  22. A goal you’ve achieved
  23. A person who makes you laugh
  24. An answered prayer
  25. Something you’ve created that makes you feel proud

Another way to start a gratitude journaling practice is to purchase a guided journal. My favorite brand is Ink & Volt. There are also endless options across Amazon and what I love is that you can find different options for women, men, and even teens and children.

I hope you enjoy your gratitude journaling practice & I would love to hear how it impacts your life!