This season is an opportune time to pause and be grateful, whether it’s for friends, family, shelter, or some other facet of our lives. Tempted to write off gratitude journaling, meditation, and purposefully counting your blessings as new-age hooey?
Reconsider: The deliberate cultivation of gratitude, a practice you might encounter in a yoga class or yoga therapy session, has powerful effects on both mind and body, including not only on anxiety and depression, but also brain structure and the heart itself. (Some of the recent original research, which requires a subscription to view fully, is here.)
One time-tested way of cultivating gratitude is by serving others:
And don’t worry if feeling grateful doesn’t exactly come naturally. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of a collection of teachings believed to have been authored beginning as early as the seventh century BCE, recommends practicing to achieve the desired results:
“As a person acts, so he becomes in life. … You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”