I had the honor and privilege to attend a Heal the Healers training this past Thursday, sponsored by the Joyful Heart Foundation.*. Lauren van Dernoot Lipsky, author of Trauma Stewardship, along with Allison Tallis, yoga instructor and wellness practitioner, offered a space for the healers and professionals who work with trauma to focus on self-care, and skills for self-awareness and restoration.
One focus of the training was to add to our lives a daily practice of gratitude. This resonated deeply with me and I felt ‘at home’ in her descriptions. To me, living a life full of gratitude is a way to find something positive in all that we do, a way to be grateful for what we have and who we are. It is a way to bring more positive things into our lives by being open and in the right feeling-space to receive them. It is a way to feel the good in this world despite so much suffering. A way to feel humanity and to appreciate the world we are a part of.
As I left the training, I was having a conversation with a colleague, who inspires me every time I hear her speak. I was talking about how I am grateful and that I wake up every morning thankful for the breath I have, and the opportunity for a new day. She offered a reflection to me that went something like “That is something very good about you, that you are always thankful”. While I can’t remember the exact words, that reflection shifted me. Sometimes it is something as unplanned, and casual as that. A reflection of our being that makes sense to us, at the right time.
We inherently have inside us what we need, to make our lives, on our earth, one we can enjoy and be grateful to have. We know what we need to do for ourselves – sometimes we just can’t see it, and may not have it in our awareness. It is there. For me, that simple practice has allowed me to highlight what is probably my biggest strength and ability.
Every morning my son and I have the same routine. He wakes up calling “Mommy, Mommy”. I go to him, give him hugs and kisses regardless if he wakes up cranky or happy. Then we go to the window. As I hold him, we talk about what is outside. I comment on the beauty of the sun shining, or the amazement of the snow that fell the night before, or the rain. We talk about the squirrels we see and the birds. Maybe the grass is really green or the leaves fell from the tree, but we spend a few minutes connecting and admiring what is wonderful and beautiful about the earth. And its there, every day. Our conversation has a profound grounding effect to what holds us as well as an appreciation and deep gratitude for the larger world that we are connected to.
I know have a deeper sense of gratitude just by simply putting intention, and bringing awareness, to a practice that I am already doing. Sometimes it is there, right in front of us, and we are simply not aware.
Written by Ellen Gregory, LMFT – www.ellengregorylmft.com
* The Joyful Heart Foundation is an unprecedented organization which not only helps survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault to heal and reclaim their lives; it cares for the professionals and healers who do the work. Elena Hull, LMFT, CAT, our Clinical Director at Midtown MFT, is a Clinical Consultant for Joyful Heart has been integral in the development of their retreats and wellness programs.