As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live them.—John F. Kennedy
Welcome to a brand new month at Tranquil Space. We have pumpkins, mums, twinkle lights, and, of course, tea and cookies to greet you.
Mark your calendars to help us celebrate 18 years of co-creating community and serving tranquility in the DMV on Saturday, November 11 from 10-1. I’ll bake vegan pumpkin scones, we’ll have cake, plus 20% off boutique and class passes at both studios. At our Dupont location, we’ll be hosting a TranquiliT trunk show. Please stop by, we’d love to see you!
As we move into the finale of this year, I like to hit the pause button to reflect on 2017 before the whirlwind of the holidays hit. I’ve just returned from hosting my annual Writing in the Woods retreat where writers of all levels took time to slow down and listen within. One prompt we explored was creating a wish list for the last two months of 2017. What’s on yours?
In Writing to Heal the Soul Susan Zimmerman writes, “Through writing, we discover unexpected particles of truth that light our path; we move through our grief mindfully, in a way that allows us to comprehend and integrate the experience into our lives, not just rush frantically on as the avalanche thunders around us. By going deep within to a place of honesty untainted by society’s ‘shoulds,’ our vision is enlarged. We gain perspective on our lives.”
Seeking clarity and perspective is a mindful way to practice yoga beyond the mat. Many mornings I reach for a notebook and pen, sink into a cozy black-and-white patterned chair, and release the cacophony of my mind onto the page. This is called journaling.
Studies show that journaling helps stimulate creativity, brings mindfulness to a wandering mind, process post-traumatic stress disorder, increase sleep, decrease stress and anxiety, and even decrease cancer symptoms.
I’ve been an avid pen-to-paper gal since grade school, when I’d observe my Gramma spending her evening toiling away in a notebook, detailing her day. So I, too, created a practice to highlight my day (typically revolving around tween crushes, upsets, or BFFs).
As a therapist, I often encourage clients to jot down emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations between our sessions. To note what triggered a reaction and to be a curious observer of their patterns. It’s powerful stuff and helps us see others and ourselves more clearly.
Maybe you start with a gratitude journal, keep it by your bedside, and list one thing you’re grateful for before going to sleep. This month we’ll be offering a gratitude challenge at Tranquil Space. As I dive into my Positive Psychology certificate course, gratitude is emphasized heavily as an important happiness tool.
Additional writing prompts include listing: three good things that happened in the past 24 hours and how you contributed to it happening, three challenges you are facing and one thing you can do to move each thing in a positive direction, three things you are grateful for in general (in the past or present), and three future gratitudes of things you want to happen in the future (written in the present tense).
Consider picking up a Moleskine and tote it with you everywhere you go (worked for Hemingway)! Or try a basic spiral-bound Mead notebook placed on your desk to reach for as needed. The point of the practice is to, well, make it a regular practice.
My favorite go-to prompt when I’m feeling stuck or find myself staring at a blank page longer than I’d like is, “How am I feeling right now?” I tap into it from all angles—mental, physical, spiritual, emotional.
Similar to any practice you begin—writing, yoga, meditation, knitting, cooking—it’s all about exercising the muscle regularly and creating a habit. Set aside a few minutes minutes to sit with your thoughts and note what comes up. Consider writing about dreams for the upcoming holidays, a dilemma you’re struggling with, or lists such as “what’s on my mind.”
Grab paper and pen and watch what unfolds. May our lives be an outward expression of our gratitude. Namaste.
P.S. If you’re free next Friday night, join me for Writing Lab. Bring your pen, paper, and a beginner’s mind!