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Meditate, rinse, repeat: How to be more mindful just in time for dinner with the in-laws

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(BPT) - Face it, there hasn’t been a lot to be thankful for the last year and a half. If gratitude is a muscle, many of us are finding ours a little atrophied. But you know what’s great about weak muscles? With a little work, you can not only get them back in shape, you can make them stronger than they were before.

All it takes is a little practice.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that grateful adults are happier and more hopeful. Sounds nice, right? As with any goal worth achieving, it takes work. But spending just a few minutes a day strengthening your gratitude muscles will pay lasting dividends.

There are a lot of ways to work your gratitude muscles. Here are a few.

1. Kundalini meditation.

We all know that Kundalini meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, help control pain, improve sleep, and decrease stress and anxiety. But did you know it can also increase gratitude through mindfulness? Give it a try. Studies show that just eleven minutes a day of Kundalini meditation will benefit both your physical and mental health. If you can, practice it for 40 days in a row — this will instill a habit. Forty days probably seems like a lot. But you’ll be thankful for it.

Here’s a daily meditation practice from 3HO, a global organization dedicated to sharing the teachings of Kundalini Yoga:

Posture: Sit in a comfortable upright position.

Hands: Cup your hands together, like you’re about to drink from a clean alpine stream, and hold them in front of your heart. Relax your shoulders, let your arms rest at your sides and feel every other part of your body relaxing and releasing.

Eyes and Mental Focus: In this posture, simply sit with your eyes closed and try to visualize all that you are grateful for in your life falling into your cupped hands.

Breath: Breathe deeply and feel yourself merging with the light of all of those blessings you hold in your hands.

Time: Continue for 3, 11 or 31 minutes (or however long it feels comfortable to do so).

2. Rose, Bud, Thorn.

This is a terrific gratitude exercise to practice if you have kids, but can also be practiced alone, or with a very patient cat.

Take a moment every evening and ask yourself what the best part of your day was (your rose), what you’re looking forward to (your bud), and what didn’t go well (your thorn). If you live with other people, go around the table and share.

3. Thankfulness flossing.

When you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, give thanks. You don’t have to write a thank-you note. You’re busy, flossing. Just go through a mental checklist and if there is someone who’s been nice to you recently, thank them, in your head. That’s all. Easy.

4. Gratitude list.

Many of us have tried keeping journals, only to abandon them after a few pages. This journal is easy. In fact, think of it less as a journal, and more as a list. All you have to do is write down three things you’re grateful for every day. That’s it! They can even be the same three things every day. The idea is to develop the habit of thinking about and acknowledging goodness.

These thankfulness exercises are just suggestions. See what works for you. Part of practicing gratitude is acknowledging that it’s okay to do what you can, instead of what you think you should. Be kind to yourself. The rest will follow.

For more ideas on how Kundalini Yoga and Meditation can be practiced at home, and benefit your health and wellness routine, visit https://www.3ho.org.