Thanksgiving Isn’t Just One Day

Tree branches with golden autumn leaves

By Allison From-Tapp, Psy.D., HSP

Gratitude comes in many ways and sometimes shows up when you aren’t even looking for it. I recently attended a workshop on self-compassion, mainly focused on mindfulness techniques connecting back to compassion. I think of myself as a very compassionate person and typically I feel enough compassion for myself as well. But we all have those moments when we beat up on ourselves or just aren’t kind, sometimes without even realizing it. I push myself sometimes even when I don’t feel well or I give time to others when I really need it for me, even though I would tell anyone else it is okay to make time for themselves. At this particular workshop, I was in the middle of a simple mindful exercise when I had that epiphany that I also needed to be nicer to myself.

The mindful exercise is simply this: As you breathe, say to yourself, “Inhale, my friend. Exhale, my friend”. It only takes a moment and can be very powerful. When we remember to treat ourselves with grace, humility, patience, and kindness, it becomes even easier to continue to do that for others. Try and remember to be a friend to yourself, especially in the hard moments of life.

As we enter the holiday season, this becomes even more important. Holidays hold so much emotion for many of us. It is a complicated web of cascading feelings, especially as we get older. While many of us look forward to and love all holidays, not everyone is able to feel that way. Holidays can be painful and full of loss.

Approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, my challenge for us all is to look deeply inward and remind ourselves what we are truly grateful for in this moment. This can be small or grand. It may be thankfulness for a crowded table with all your loved ones or thankfulness for a moment of solitude. There will be grief surrounding those who are no longer with us, relationships lost, or longing to be with those far away. Even during the moments of grief, acknowledge the sadness, and when you can, bring yourself back to this present moment and any gratitude you feel in this space, this time, this place.

For Thanksgiving, a Loving Kindness Meditation seems fitting. Loving Kindness Meditation, also referred to as Metta, is a meditation to help strengthen kindness and connection for us all. There are many phrases used by different practitioners. Below is a simple one that is easy to remember. At the end you will also find links to others. All you need is yourself. You can sit or stand. You can keep your eyes open or close them. Just be and breathe. And while breathing, slowly recite the following to yourself as many times as you want.

May I be happy.
May I be well.
May I be safe.
May I be at peace.

May you be happy.
May you be well.
May you be safe.
May you be at peace.

May all beings be happy.
May all beings be well.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be at peace.

When you have more time, check out some of these guided meditations to see if one feels better for you.

Happy Day of Gratitude.