“Contemplating our food for a few seconds before eating, and eating in mindfulness,
can bring us much happiness.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
Thanksgiving and the end of fall is a time for coming together and expressing gratitude for what we have. It is rooted in the tradition of celebrating harvest and giving thanks for the bounty of the year.
This practice is common among among religions and cultures across the world.
Experiencing gratitude encourages us not only to appreciate our blessings or gifts, but to extend this goodness to others.
The wisdom of gratitude has long been known, but now its value to spiritual and physical health and well being is backed by science.
Researchers in the practice of gratitude describe it as a key personality strength and research shows that practicing gratitude can have many positive physical, psychological, and social benefits.
Mindfulness teacher Heidi Hill of LifeinFullBloom.com defines gratitude as “the quality of appreciating good things that happen, and experiencing the positive feeling of gratefulness that results.” She writes that gratitude “will not only increase happiness, but also allow us to lead a more meaningful life and increase our ability to achieve the life we want…The idea of gratitude is not that we should feel positive all of the time, but that by being grateful we will have a greater sense of happiness in our life and have more resilience to cope with difficulties that may arise.”
Savoring is identified as one of these activities with supporting research:
In our daily lives, we don’t always notice or acknowledge the pleasant and positive things around us. We may be in a rush, distracted by other thoughts, or busy checking our phones. As a result, we miss opportunities for positive experiences and positive emotions—the building blocks of long-term happiness. Research suggests that we can maximize the benefits of the good things around us by consciously savoring them rather than letting them pass us by or taking them for granted. -Heidi Hill, “Create a Lasting Gratitude Practice”
Gratitude, Savoring and Wine
As I discussed in my earlier post, wine tasting teaches us to exercise sensory discrimination and control. Slowing down, paying attention, and approaching a glass of wine with awareness and the intention of study is an act of mindfulness.
Wine tasting provides us with an opportunity to practice savoring in a way that can assist us in developing a deeper appreciation for what we have and make positive changes in how we respond to sensory experiences elsewhere in life.
When you sit down to your next feast, draw you awareness to savoring as a practice of gratitude. Use the wine tasting guidelines offered in my last post to help you slow down and appreciate the subtleties of the wine.
Wine tasting teaches us to slow down and savor, which has benefits of deepening our gratitude.
Apply those same practices to each bite of food. Notice the aromas, flavors, texture and sensation of the wine and the food. Become a witness to your sensation and observe the positive experiences that may arise. Savor the moment.
Some Gratitude Stats:
Robert Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, and his team have studied more than one thousand people, from ages 8 to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits including:
Stronger immune systems
Less bothered by aches and pains
Lower blood pressure
Exercise more and take better care of their health
Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking Psychological
Higher levels of positive emotions
A more positive outlook on life in general
More alert, alive, and awake
More joy and pleasure
More optimism and happiness
Greater progress against personal goals Social
More helpful, generous, and compassionate
Feel less lonely and isolated
By Chiara Shannon