We hear and read a lot about the benefits of gratitude. Likely you know people who talk about being grateful as a regular way of coping with problems and distress. Maybe you’ve tried it yourself. Most of us have felt gratitude spontaneously in response to something that someone does or something we notice that we appreciate. The benefits of gratitude are many and include improving depression, heart health and immunity, and adding positivity to relationships. Gratitude can be a spiritual practice. It can also slow down our perception of time when we feel time is moving too fast.
How does this happen?
When we pause to feel gratitude or appreciation we must slow down, even for a moment, to connect with ourselves and notice our experience. This anchors us in the present. If we are in the present moment, our sensation of time passing changes, it slows down and even stops. If we can return to gratitude daily then there are moments we experience regularly without rushing and our overall sense of time can slow. I don’t believe we can spend every moment being “in the moment” and this is not what I am suggesting. We can take moments to savour, when time stops or slows in the enjoyment, appreciation, or grateful experience when our focus is fully on ourselves.
Gratitude, as I am writing about today, is not an intellectual exercise of listing what we are glad we have. It is the “flowing across the heart” sensation of appreciation and pleasure for what is happening right in that moment. These may not be your words and you can find your own words to describe what you experience by recognizing the physical and emotional sensations of gratitude when they spontaneously occur. This might be from sunshine, a kind word, anticipation for something good, sharing a laugh, having your teenager say thank you, a soft bed, and so on.
How would you describe your physically and emotionally felt sensations of gratitude?
This is what we want to recreate in the practice of experiencing gratitude in the moment that we attend to it.
Recently I have been practicing gratitude in the moment when I get into bed at night. I pay attention to how good it feels to lay down, to relax tension, to have a soft, comfortable, and warm mattress and blankets. This helps me relax in preparation for sleep and it gives me some moments when time stops as I savour the comfort I cultivate experiencing. I look forward now to the experiencing of being grateful because it slows down time at the end of the day. It provides comfort which is much different from the experience of time rushing by while I try to get everything done.
Try it yourself –don’t think about it- feel it- and be curious yourself about how your perception of time changes as you feel the sensations of gratitude.