Gratitude Reduces Inflammation!???


We all have probably read something like this by now, but do we truly practice it? I read this yesterday in the New York Post:

"Emmons also has compiled a list of health data points from his and others’ studies on gratitude that show there are many emotional and physical health benefits of being consciously thankful. For example, practicing gratitude is related to 23 percent lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and led to a 7 percent reduction in biomarkers of inflammation in patients with congestive heart failure. There are studies that suggest gratitude led to reductions in depression and blood pressure and improvement in sleep quality among those with chronic pain and insomnia. In one study, 88 percent of suicidal patients reported feeling less hopeless after writing a letter of gratitude." 

This is research done by Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Michael McCullough of the University of Miami.

Practicing gratitude is scientifically proven to reduce inflammation and it feels so good so why don't we practice it regularly? I have actually naturally built a gratitude practice into my daily routine pretty easily and have been doing so for about a year. It started last fall when I was truly going through a hard time. When everything seemed to be falling apart and I was having trouble getting myself out of bed in the morning, I would look out the window behind my head and stare a little bit into the camellia tree that's right outside and first I would say thanks for the trees, then it moved into nature in general, then my family and friends and then the life that I've been given. Just this simple act would make me feel good enough that I would get myself out of bed and start my morning routine. Compared to millions of people on this earth, I've been given one of the best lives I could have been given and believe me, compared to some of the people I know I struggle with a lot of things despite this blessed life I've been given!

Although I still look out this same window almost daily and give thanks before I start the day, I've since also started building a gratitude practice into my meditation routine. I really only meditate ten minutes a day, but once I'm done with that ten minutes I continue with a breathing meditation that I read about in Kelly Brogan's book: "A Mind of your Own". First I do alternate nostril breath and then I switch to in and out breaths in my left nostril (which is supposed to create a sense of calm and peace) and on the in and out breaths I go through the very basics of what I'm grateful for in my life:

  • The life I've been given, this earth I live on and the gorgeous mysterious universe
  • My husband
  • My parents
  • My family
  • My friends
  • My talents and creativity

If you had told me a few years ago that I would have a regular practice of nostril breathing I would have looked at you like you had two heads, but a few years ago I wasn't taking the risks I'm taking now in my life to move forward with what I hope will be a more productive and meaningful path in my life. Its important to me to give this career change and The Healing Farm my best shot and I need all the help I can get to take the kinds of risks I'm taking and to put myself out there despite my fear and doubt. Practicing gratitude every day has been a great way to recognize what I already have in my life and all that I've achieved thus far (strong relationships with friends and family is more than I could have hoped for in my life and that's already achieved) and if practicing gratitude can also help reduce inflammation in my body? Well, then that's just the icing on the GF cake!

So THANK YOU to all of those who may be reading this and especially to all of my past retreat clients and upcoming retreat clients for helping me make my dream come true! If anyone has taken the time to read this, feel free to announce what you are grateful for in the comments section!