1 comment on “Practicing Gratifood: Five Steps to Eating Mindfully”

Practicing Gratifood: Five Steps to Eating Mindfully

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Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” -Denis Waitley

What people usually mean when they say “gratifood” is the process of applying gratitude to food. Infusing appreciation into what we eat, being mindful every step of the way, and practicing awareness that food is something to be thankful for.

Step 1: Get connected to each step of the process.

Gratifood begins before you start cooking. It begins before you decide what’s for dinner. It begins in your mind as a mental checklist of all the things that have to happen for you to be able to eat.

If you think for a moment about all the steps food takes before it ends up on your plate, you will instantly feel more connected to the process. Taking it a step further, if you specifically think about each step your food has taken to get to you, the more and more and more you will feelappreciation.

AJ Jacobs, author of “Thanks a Thousand,” realized how much he took for granted his morning cup of coffee. So, he set out on a journey to thank all the people that make his morning ritual possible. What he quickly realized is that the amount of people to thank is infinite: every person he thanked would not have been able to do what they do without the help of countless other people. Everyone from the cashier that rings him up at the grocery store, to the roaster, to the farmer, to the truck driver, to the workers who maintain the roads. He thanks a thousand people in the book, and the ultimate moral of the story is that there are far more people to thank than he possibly could in one lifetime. And that’s just for one small daily ritual–coffee.

Getting connected to the process starts by asking, “If I trace this food—say it’s peanut butter—back to where it began, where does that take me?” As AJ found out, there is an infinite number of components to thank, and there’s no need to do this process of thankfulness ad-nauseum. At some point during the process of cooking, remember to bring to mind the fact that it’s a series of small miracles that you have the variety and quality of food that you do.

When you become aware of the infinite level of thanks you can give for any given food item, and you begin to apply that level of gratitude to the many ingredients you use in any given meal, you can begin to feel an appropriate level of appreciation for the food you’re about to eat.

Step 2: Pour your heart’s loving energy into the food.

Even if it means taking longer to cook, allowing your day’s pent-up positive energy to overflow into the process of cooking can transform the way you make food. Cooking can be a structured outlet into which you can process those positive emotions. And yes, positive emotions need to be processed too! By creating a meal this way, you can transfer your positive emotions into a new form–food–and experience them all over again! One of the most powerful positive emotions you can use to enhance this effect is gratitude. It’s not necessarily about what you eat as much as it is about how you eat. Eating starts before you take the first bite. We all know this and if we need proof, all we have to do is conjure up the image of a brimming mug of hot chocolate and imagine touching it to our lips for the first foamy sip, tasting the sweet cocoa powder and cinnamon.

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Step 3: Curate your dining environment.

At this point we’ve learned to put appreciation, love and thanks into the different steps of cooking in order to create a meal that’s infused with gratifood. Now it’s time to set the stage. It’s encouraged to create a space in which you feel comfortable eating. A place where you can complete the act of eating with full presence and little distraction. It’s important to consider everything from ambiance, lighting and decor to the types of utensils you eat with.

Did you ever consider you might appreciate your meal more simply by changing the dishware you’re using? It makes sense that you would enjoy your morning beverage more if you are drinking it from a mug that you bought specifically because looking at it brings you joy! You should be able to tell the story of everything you own, and especially the items you use to eat with. Because unlike a baseball glove or pair of pants, you are ingesting the energy of that plate or bowl every time you eat.

And just because the word energy is used, that doesn’t it make it woo-woo. Extending your mindfulness about eating to what you cook with and eat off of can have measurable health benefits. Did you know that changing the type of pan you cook with can help oxygenate your blood? Every time you cook with a cast iron pan you’re boosting your iron intake. Since iron is an essential nutrient that every cell in the body needs to transport oxygen in the blood and myoglobin in muscles, it’s safe to say that the type of pan you cook with has the power to make you a healthier person.

Step 4: Eat with others and if you are eating alone, eat alone.

Now that the meal is ready and the stage is set, it’s a good time to customize the gratifood experience based around who you are eating with.

If you are eating alone, make sure to commit fully to eating alone. Understand that you can experience gratifood just as much alone as you can at a communal meal. Make sure to eliminate distractions. There’s some gray area here and use your good judgment. If you are going to consume content while eating, make sure whatever music you are playing or podcast you are listening to contributes to the feelings of gratitude and appreciation you’ve cultivated thus far.

Remember, digestion starts before taking the first bite. Having content playing in the background, especially video can change your focus in way that inhibits proper digestion. Think about it. Ever watched a suspenseful movie and actually felt it in your body? You’re hanging on the edge of your seat with a pit in your stomach and breathing shallowly. You’ve experienced how the type of content you’re consuming can have real effects on your physiology. And if the content puts you in a fight or flight physiological response, you can see how it would disrupt digestion, which occurs optimally when the body is in a rest and relaxation state.

If you have nothing to distract yourself with, your food becomes your company. You will chew your food well, enjoy every bite to the maximum, and significantly slow the rate at which you eat. You will get to know your food like a close friend.

Did you know it can take up to twenty minutes for the body to send signals of satiety? Most people’s meals don’t even last that long! If you eat slowly, you will probably end up eating less, which in most cases is a good thing. Mindful eating allows you to more appropriately gauge when you should stop eating based off the body’s satiety versus the default gauge people usually use, which is stomach fullness.

Step 5: Dedicate the first 10 bites you take.

I’m going to step in to the first person here for a moment and tell you a little story. It takes place in a rural county in Virginia, at an off-the-beaten-path retreat center called Yogaville. I stayed there for one month during the summer of 2015. Everyone living at the facility and doing the work trade program ate communal meals together. The big meals would be served in a dining hall, and prior to taking the first bite, we would usually go around in a circle and everyone would dedicate the first bite of their meal. This was our version of gratifood. Sometimes we would go around in the circle and we’d do several of these very slow, grateful bites before we started eating at a normal pace. This allowed us to thoroughly infuse each bite with appreciation.

Know that if you take nothing else from this article, if you remember the 10 bites rule, you will be practicing gratitude. Before beginning to eat at your normal pace, eat ten bites mindfully and slowly. Between each bite, bring to mind someone or something you are grateful for and dedicate that bite accordingly.

The five steps to practicing gratifood are your friend. Start small, but make sure to start somewhere. A great place to start is by choosing one of the five steps that resonate most with you and apply it to one of your meals this week. When done on a regular basis, mindful eating has the power to change your thoughts, emotional state, and physical health.

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BioPicEditor’s note: This is a guest post by Tim Brogan. Tim is currently an Ithaca-based yogi and traveler whose motto is “step into your purpose and share it with clarity.”

Subscribe to his Living is Learning Podcast and YouTube channel: @timbrogan. Website: topselfdevelopment.com

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3 comments on “Gratitude: How to Sing from the Mountaintops”

Gratitude: How to Sing from the Mountaintops

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What are you grateful for? 

This question can become cliché and trite when you read it every single day on Instagram posts. Gratitude can become stale and void of meaning when #gratitudechallenge is blowing up your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Gratitude has been called the “father of virtues” — the virtue from which all others arise. But what does it actually look like? In the real world, what does gratitude actually look like? Try and imagine a portrait of gratitude in your mind.

If you are imagining a totally liberated flower-child running to the top of a poppy field with her arms wide open, embracing the beautiful universe and her place in it, smiling ear to ear, and celebrating her very life… you might be kind of crazy. But you’re also correct. This is actually sort of what gratitude does look like. Or at least what it can look like.

Gratitude is the thing that allows you to run up to the top of that mountain — in your mind’s eye, in your soul. When life is at a standstill, when things aren’t going your way — gratitude re-centers you and takes your mind off of the breaks you aren’t getting. Gratitude empowers us by reminding us to focus on the things that we do have: to focus on the breaths we get to take, the friends we can call, the bed we get to sleep in, the covers we get to pull over ourselves, the pillow under our head. The fact that we can open our windows and hear the birds. The fact that we can drink green tea in Tennessee, that was harvested and cured in Japan. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of things that we can choose to focus on, in a spirit of gratitude, that will get us to the top of that mountain, even when we’re sitting in traffic, or feeling lonely. It is all just a matter of focus.

Have you ever used one of those fancy big DSLR cameras? Those ones where you have to twist the lens to make it focus on the subject you are shooting? Well with those fancy cameras you get to make a choice: you can choose the auto-focus setting and let the camera decide what to focus on and what the subject is, or you can manually focus and you get to choose what you are going to focus on — and then you twist the lens and blur the background and make the subject nice and sharp and clear.

We live in a culture that constantly encourages us to compare ourselves to others, and because of this, the auto-focus setting in our lives is to zoom in on the things we don’t have. If we let our internal lens auto-focus then our eyes will gravitate toward that girl’s perfect skin, or that guy’s salary, or the thing we can’t afford, or the place we don’t have time to go.

Turn your life off of auto-focus and take the reigns. Set your sight to manual focus and you’ll experience a whole new world. It is hard at first, because it takes a bit of skill to manually adjust the lens so that it isn’t blurry. It takes a bit of practice and effort and skill to get your sight to adjust. To get to the point where you look at something and twist the lens so that the background is blurry and the subject is perfectly clear — but you get to decide what you focus on, society doesn’t choose for you. Now you get to look at the electricity in your home with a new sense of appreciation and clarity, you get to look at the steam coming from your shower and your realize that “Dang! I have hot water! What a blessing!” You get to look at your phone and see that it is full of contacts, of family and friends, who care about you. You stop autofocusing on the one person who broke your heart. Keep adjusting your lens, keep scanning the room and looking closely at every single thing until the little things come into clear view, and you are able to comprehend that the little things are gifts. Wherever you are right now: look around, and don’t rush through it… what do you see? Isn’t it amazing?

That crazy picture of that girl running up the hill and singing to the sun and the flowers, doesn’t seem so crazy. That girl simply took ownership of her life. She just decided she would start running, and leave behind the broken things. Her life is on manual focus, she is grateful, she decides what she sees and what matters.

Start working on gratitude and on manual focus — pretty soon you’ll be on top of that mountain without a care in the world who is watching you sing and dance and celebrate the good and the true.

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Editor’s note:   This is a guest post by Matt Richardson, co-founder of Gramr Gratitude Co. Gramr makes beautiful thank-you notes and they believe in the power of the handwritten note. They are building a community around gratitude and grateful living — learn more about their vision of a more grateful world here.

Follow Gramr Gratitude Co. | Updates | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Twitter |

Photo credit:  Cam Lee Yoga

0 comments on “10 Benefits of Gratitude”

10 Benefits of Gratitude

gratitude_silviaRick Foster and Greg Hicks set out on a three-year journey to study extremely happy people. In their book How We Choose to Be Happy, they found that there are nine choices happy people make. One of those nine is to practice Appreciation.  The other of the nine choices includes: Intention, Accountability, Identification, Centrality, Recasting, Options, Giving, Truthfulness, and Synergy.

Happy people actively exercise gratitude and choose to live with an attitude of gratitude. They don’t buy into what geneticists say, that we have an unmovable “happiness set-point.”

The happiest people, according to behaviorists, can move beyond that biological set point through practices such as Yoga and gratitude meditation. In fact, many studies suggest that gratitude can be learned by anyone to transform our lives. This means that by actively practicing gratitude, we can actually raise our “happiness set-point,” regardless of the situation, and no matter the circumstance.

Appreciation makes us aware of the blessings present in our life moment to moment. There is always something to be grateful for if you are fully engaged in what’s happening right now instead of replaying the past or worrying about the future. Besides a higher happiness set point, other benefits of gratitude include:

  1. Feeling more connected (less lonely)
  2. Stronger immune system
  3. Improved emotional equilibrium
  4. Better sleep
  5. Increased energy
  6. More confidence in ourselves
  7. Deeper relaxation
  8. We are more attractive
  9. Increased creativity
  10. Easier bounce back from difficulty

To experience these benefits we must consciously choose to practice gratitude. Include one of these exercises in your life:

  1. Set your intention to maintain a Gratitude Journal for one week. Every morning, start your day with a simple gratitude exercise that involves writing down 3-10 things you are grateful for, both big and small.
  2. Set the timer for three minutes and sit still. Quietly think about all that you appreciate in a free-form stream of consciousness, without any editing. Don’t worry if it makes sense or not.
  3. For a week write one thank you note per day to tell someone how much you appreciate them and why.
  4. Practice self-appreciation. Take time for seven days in a row to write yourself a note of gratitude.

You will be amazed at how effortless recognizing these moments of grace becomes. Taken together these small blessings cultivate a beautiful “just right” abundance of love and joy. What’s even better? Studies prove these gratitude exercises will increase your sense of well-being by at least 10%. Don’t take my word on it, or even believe the scientists behind these studies, try it and find out for yourself. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! ~Silvia

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Screen Shot Front Silvia CardEditor’s note: This is another amazing guest post by Daily Cup of Yoga contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia. Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted! Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.

Silvia can be reached on the Web at www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com, or via email at silvia@alchemytours.com. Twitter: @alchemytours@inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.

Photo credit: @inspiredyogagal on Instagram

7 comments on “Happiness Starts with this Habit”

Happiness Starts with this Habit

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We are taught at a very young age that it is our right to pursue happiness—and most of us try a little bit of everything all in an effort to become happy. We try making a lot of money; we try this or that diet; we get into this or that relationship; we serve this or that charitable organization—it’s all about happiness. Try thinking of something you’ve done because you wanted to be unhappy—it’s impossible, right? The pursuit of happiness drives us to action.

So, we’re all after the same thing—happiness. Great. We’re all on a level playing field, and we’re all in this together. Teammates! But now we return to the original difficulty—we all want to be happy, but sometimes it’s tough to see how to get there. There can’t be a single path to happiness! It’s impossible, right?

Wrong. There is a very simple way that works across all cultural divides. It is called gratitude. When we appreciate the things that we have in our life, and the people who have helped us grow, we become happier. If we get into a habit of constantly regarding the positive things in our lives, then the habit becomes easier—you don’t have to listen for the bird’s song, you simply hear it. You don’t have to drive across town, you get to drive across town—and you take a new route, and you see a new person, and you become more curious, and you dream anew. When we get ourselves into habits of gratitude, rain doesn’t make things gray, it makes things sparkle.

LyubomirskyHappinessScience has recently begun to support the belief that gratitude can make us happy—where previously it was believed that there was a set point for happiness in each person, a limit coded into our DNA—now scientists believe that 40% of our happiness is influenced by intentional activities. 40% is a lot. You are in control. Be good to yourself by being grateful. Be good to others by thanking them for who they are, and what they do for you.

So if you’re reading this, and you want to be happy (that means you), let me recommend an intentional activity that will do wonders for you. Each week write one thank you note to someone who makes your life better. That’s one handwritten thank-you note per week. Not a text, not a Facebook post, but a heartfelt, handwritten thank-you note, which indicates to someone that you spent time and postage on them because they matter. It could be your best friend, your yoga instructor, your hair stylist—it could be anyone. Your relationships will become more meaningful, you will become happier, and so will everyone you touch. All it takes is a few minutes of mindful gratitude each week—remember, you are in control of 40% of your overall happiness, and remember that we are all in this together. So let’s start a habit, and let’s start a movement.

I’ve launched a campaign for this purpose—to help us build habits of gratitude. I am passionate about gratitude, and what it can do for us as a community—and I wanted it to be a beautiful and convenient habit in our lives. I thought tirelessly about how to do that—and the tools are finally ready. Gramr Gratitude Co. is live on Kickstarter—we’ve worked with the best designers and photographers in the country to create and deliver four new, gorgeous cards to your doorstep each month—one per week. If you join us you will become part of a community that believes that people matter, and that gratitude matters. Your happiness starts with this habit of intentional gratitude.

So, who are you grateful for? And what are you waiting for? Tell them.

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Self1 copy-1Editor’s note:  This is a guest post by Matt Richardson, co-founder of Gramr Gratitude Co. and he is passionate believer in the power of gratitude. His work can be found on the Huffington Post, and his startup has been featured in TechCrunch among various other outlets. Join him in the gratitude movement and get in the habit of saying thanks once per week, by visiting www.gramr.us

When he is not writing thank-you notes he is hitchhiking, drinking coffee, or searching for storytellers.  Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or his website