Summary: We learn how gratitude positively affects our brain, body, and emotions. And we will experience a practice which lets us feel the amazing benefits of gratitude.
- [00:00] Introduction
- [01:00] Gratitude affects all of our basic functions.
- [02:50] Happy Brain Chemicals
- [05:00] Gratitude and Acupoints
- [08:01] How to do MIDLINE SEQUENCE
- [10:02] The MIDLINE SEQUENCE
- [14:44] Recap
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Hello, friends! And welcome to Move Into Resilience. I’m your host Pamela Stokes. In today’s episode we’ll be learning how gratitude positively affects our brain, body, and emotions. And we’ll experience a practice which lets us feel the amazing benefits of gratitude. So let’s begin.
Hello, my friends. Pamela here. Thanks for joining me. Today we’re going to be doing a practice where we use our acupoints and express feelings of gratitude. Seeing as this is a holiday week where we have a holiday in which we give thanks in the United States, I thought it would be a good idea to include this in this week’s episode.
I wanted to give us a little bit of background on why this is important for the body and the brain. Gratitude has been studied extensively, and the findings are innumerable–the benefits of gratitude. It affects a very important part of our brain, called the hypothalamus, which is involved in all of our basic functions. Findings have shown that the hypothalamus is activated when we express gratitude. And that basically means that without thankfulness or without gratitude we aren’t able to function properly. So I feel that it’s important, I would say vitally important, for us to get used to practicing gratitude. It may not be in your regular everyday repertoire, but I highly recommend it because of its amazing benefits. And I’m just going to list a few. The hypothalamus controls all of our basic functions: sleep, appetite, temperature regulation, growth, and metabolism. If we could activate the hypothalamus using gratitude, we can help control and regulate all of these basic functions. It’s massively helpful.
In addition to this, our brain will release a few of what are called happy brain chemicals. Dopamine is one of them and dopamine is considered to be a risk/reward chemical. So what’s great about this is not only does it feel good when you receive it, it also motivates you to do more of what it was that you were doing to create it in the first place. So a little bit of gratitude causes us to receive a flood of dopamine which then in turn causes us to feel that we gotta do more of what we just did. Pretty great system. Gratitude and appreciation also boost our oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is what is called the bonding chemical, sometimes called the love chemical. And in combination oxytocin with dopamine can actually reduce cravings. This is something that I feel is very helpful to know to understand, that the feeling of gratitude, by creating oxytocin and dopamine together, will help stave off cravings. Another molecule that gets manufactured during the practice of gratitude is serotonin, and serotonin is one of the things that has a correlation to different mood disorders—anxiety, depression, and so forth. So an increase in serotonin by practicing gratitude has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety, very rapidly. With all of these benefits there’s no doubt that this is a good practice to do. And we’re going to do one today that involves using our acupoints. At the same time that we are connecting with ourselves, by holding these acupoints, letting our nervous system know “all is well”; bringing us out of any fight flight or freeze state that we might be in, we are also practicing this gratitude which will affect us in all of these other positive ways. Since this is a neurological combination, we are wiring pathways in place by doing this practice. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes to do it and the more readily that pathway is used. So this will boost your mood. It will elevate your immune system function. It will help your metabolism and appetite; decrease cravings. And a very important part of our life is sleep. And this practice that we’re going to be doing, and gratitude in general, will help your sleep—not only just falling asleep, but staying asleep, and feeling rested upon awakening. And that could change a lot of people’s lives, so I would like you to not only do this for yourself, but share this with your family and friends. It’s a great practice to get into, whether or not you use the acupoints that we’ll be using. And I’m just going to throw this in here: it has also been shown to help increase resilience. The name of the show, Move Into Resilience has practices in it which are shown to be helpful for developing that. And the practice of gratitude has been shown to increase the ability to bounce back and to recover from traumatic events. So that’s what resilience is. And this is good for that. Ultimately because of our practicing gratitude we become happier, and happiness helps us to feel more connected to ourselves and to others. And all of these things together have shown to be correlated with an extended lifespan. So we could also say you’ll live longer if you’re more thankful.
So let’s go ahead and get into the practice today. This one is called the MIDLINE SEQUENCE. The MIDLINE SEQUENCE uses a series of acupoints that you’ll be just holding and at the same time I’d like us to do two complete breaths in and out. And have something in mind that you’re grateful for. It may be difficult for you to come up with things that you’re grateful for, so I thought I’d give you a hand and some ideas. One of the things that I like to practice being grateful for is the sun. The sun is constantly creating light and heat for us and we don’t have anything to do with that; it just happens. So there’s one thing you can be grateful for. Another thing you can be grateful for is for having clothes, and for having shoes, and for having light in your house, electric light. Being able to turn on a switch and make that happen. There are so many things that we can be grateful for. Simple things like trees changing color in the fall and new plants growing in the spring. So I would invite you to think of six different things because we’re going to be going through this midline sequence and using six different areas. So we’ll be holding that area; we’ll be breathing two full breaths; and we’ll be thinking of something, just bringing it up into our mind, something we’re grateful for; and allowing yourself to notice any good sensations, any positive sensations that might be coming.
So this is the MIDLINE SEQUENCE. Please join in. We’re going to start by placing the tips of your right fingers on top of your head, on the Crown of your head. And the tips of the left fingers in between your eyebrows. So this is the first spot. And we’ll take two breaths here and think of something that you’re grateful for. And you can close your eyes if you’d like to do that. (Pause 15 seconds) And then move your left fingers to the tip of your nose, and again two full breaths here, and thinking of something you’re grateful for. (pause 15 seconds) And now move the left fingers into the middle of your sternum. The sternum is the breastbone, so right in the middle there, and again two full breaths and think of something you’re grateful for. (Pause 15 seconds) And then bring your left fingers to the bottom of your sternum, at the very tip there. Just gently holding, breathing two full breaths and thinking of something you’re grateful for. Breathing through the nose is ideal. (Pause 15 seconds) And now we’ll move the left fingers down to the lowest part of the abdomen right there at the pubic bone, just gently holding, breathing through your nose deep into your lungs and thinking of something you’re grateful for. (Pause 15 seconds) And then the final location: we’re going to take the hand from the top of the head and bring it to the tailbone, which is the lowest part of your spine. So those left fingers are still on the front on the abdomen, the lowest part, and the right fingers are now on the tailbone, the lowest part of your spine, and again two full breaths and think of something you’re grateful for. (Pause 15 seconds). And now relax your hands and allow your eyes to gently open. And you can orient yourself. Just looking around the room and your eyes wander, noticing colors, shapes, and textures. Just coming back into your environment. So that was the practice of using the midline sequence of acupoints and practicing remembering things and thinking of things that you are grateful for. As you do this on a more regular basis as I said earlier, you will be creating a neural pathway of ease and comfort. So I encourage you to try this on a regular basis, daily if possible.
That’s what we have for today. We learned about the hypothalamus and how it is activated by gratitude and how it controls all of our basic functions. So basically we can’t survive and function well without gratitude. And how we can create these happy brain chemicals which help all of our functions and sleep, appetite and so forth. One of the things that I find interesting as well is even if we’re trying to find something that we’re grateful for, that creates a little dopamine and helps us to feel well too. So even if you can’t come up with something, just trying to will give you a little boost. Thank you so much for joining me today I wish you well. Enjoy the people that you’re going to be spending time with. And if you don’t have that opportunity, enjoy being with yourself. Giving gratitude on a regular basis is really good for us. I thank you. Give yourself some thanks. This has been Move Into Resilience. I’m Pamela Stokes. Take it easy.