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There is nothing that fosters a joyous life more quickly and effectively than gratitude. Gratitude takes us from a state of perceived deprivation to an awareness of our fulfillment. Iyanla Vanzant said, “We think we have to do something to be grateful or something has to be done in order for us to be grateful, when gratitude is a state of being.”

Recognizing the abundance already present in our lives invites the joy that accompanies it and changes not only how we experience the present moment but how we embrace those that have happened in the past and greet those that follow. We must open our eyes to everything that is beautiful, everything that makes life worth living, if we want to heal ourselves from pain. This is the foundation of healing no matter what our present challenges are.

Jules Renard stated, “If I had my life to live over again, I would ask that not a thing be changed, but that my eyes be opened wider.” Gratitude is what opens our eyes to the beauty that lives beside – and many times resides within – the deepest pain that stymies us. Gratitude replaces victimhood with gratification.

To describe how gratitude makes life easier, think about what gratitude makes more difficult. When one is grateful, it is impossible to feel anger, envy, resentment, depression and anxiety. When we dwell on the negative, it reinforces it – but the opposite is also true. It can set the stage for how rich our future will be.

Gratitude is not a passive state; it is an active practice. This retreat helps to establish the tools to build a grateful life. After you finish the retreat, continue to weave gratitude into your life in whatever way resonates with you.

You may want to set an alarm on your phone to chime at random times during the day. When the alarm sounds pause for a minute and look within and outside yourself for things that you are grateful for at that moment. Or, perhaps, you might want to wait until the end of the day and recount five things that make you grateful. The important part, no matter which vehicle of gratitude you use, is to really feel that sense of gratitude, experience it sinking into you and becoming you. Remember, it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.  Savor this day!

Gratitude Meditation

There is really only two ways to live your life.  One is that nothing is a miracle.  The other one is as though everything is a miracle.  ~Albert Einstein

Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths. Allow your body to begin to relax. Let your shoulders drop. Feel the release of any tension in your back, your neck, your arms and your jaw. Take in another deep breath and imagine that you are breathing in calm, peaceful emotions—when you exhale, exhale as fully as you can through your mouth and imagine releasing any negative emotions and cleansing your body even more. Each breath that you take just takes you deeper into this state of delicious relaxation.

Feel the sensation of a smile starting to grow as you move down from the top of your head, feeling gratitude for the blessings that your physical body gives you; the beauty you see through your eyes; the wonderful smells from your nose; the food that your jaw, teeth and tongue allow you to enjoy.

Move down your body thanking each part and allowing it to soften and relax under your compassionate smile: your neck; your shoulder blades and down your arms to your fingers. Then have your gratitude run down your spine and fan out into all of your internal organs that work so tirelessly for your health and vibrancy. Move down your legs to your feet – then up again to your pelvis and belly. Stop here for a moment to really feel that smile of gratitude warming your organs. Finally, move to your heart and feel it open with the light of gratitude.

Now think of something good that has happened to you recently. Make the memory as vivid as you can and really relish the experience and what it means to your life. Allow that feeling of gratitude to swell within your heart.

Next think of a person or an animal that you love. Really bring them to life in your mind. Picture the love in their eyes as they look at you. Create a vibrant picture of them happy and full of energy. Close your eyes and relish the feeling of being loved and cared for.

Recall an occasion now where you were honored or appreciated by others. Try and remember it in as much detail as possible. How did you feel during that time? Let that feeling of pride and connection swell in your heart.

Finally think about this current moment. Become conscious of everything in this moment that is a blessing—the way your body feels and all the miraculous things it is constantly doing for you; all the abundance that is available to you right now; everything you have that might be just a beautiful dream for others.

Gratitude Walk

The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk in the green Earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on Earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” If one wants to truly experience the exuberance and buoyancy of life, we have to open our eyes to the miracles that saturate our every moment. And we must open the door and marinate in the energy that connects everything.

Gratitude walks are powerful because they combine so many elements that impact our well-being. Walking in nature has been shown to reduce stress, high blood pressure and even one’s cancer risk. Combine that with the myriad of benefits that gratitude brings to our lives and the health benefits of exercise and you have a powerful elixir for genuine health and happiness.

But gratitude walks have other, more subtle benefits as well. When you walk with an awareness of all the beauty that surrounds you, it fills that spiritual pocket that tends to grow thin in our frantic lives, fraying our sense of meaning and place in the world. Meandering through sun-dappled trails soothes us, but it also opens us to ponder our lives and the deep questions about them. Our thoughts are crystalized by the fresh air because finally we have the ingredient of slow, languorous time to distill them into something sharp and precise.

How to walk with gratitude:

  • Walk alone if possible.
  • Find a location to walk in with minimal distractions or people around.
  • Take your journal so you can jot down things you are completely grateful for. Feel that gratitude then walk on. Also jot down any inspirations that come to you.
  • Take a deep breath in for five and out for five and notice your surroundings. Keep your head up as you walk—let those creative thoughts flow.
  • Be conscious of your senses. Soak in the beauty you see; pause, close your eyes and listen; take full breaths and focus on the smell; feel the sun and air caress your skin.
  • Walk slowly, feeling the ease and beauty of your muscles and feet as you walk. As Thich Nhat Hahn suggests, “walk as though your feet are kissing the earth.”
  • Get out a timer and set it for two minutes. As you walk, look at the first prompt below and follow it for the two minutes allotted. When the two minutes are up, reset the timer and go to the next prompt until you have gone through the entire list.
  • Notice something small; what are some small things in your life you are grateful for?
  • Notice the beauty of the trees; the texture of the bark, the grace of the trunk and the branches against the sky. Feel their energy flowing through you. What are some other ways that nature heals you that you are grateful for?
  • Look around and notice something beautiful that you are grateful for. What other beautiful things in your life do you take for granted?
  • Notice the clouds; let your thoughts drift like the clouds while you enjoy the beauty of the present moment
  • Listen to the music of a repetitive sound; what are some things that occur every day that you are grateful for?
  • Notice the beauty of your body as it walks; what about your body are you grateful for?
  • Notice something impermanent. Think about the people that were once in your life that you are grateful for. Now think of the people presently in your life that you are grateful for. How can you show them that gratitude?
  • Notice your breath right now. What about your life are you grateful for at this very moment?
  • Touch something with loving-kindness
  • Close your eyes and pause. Listen with love and gratitude
  • Look for something that gives you a sense of awe
  • Get a handful of stones and assign each a worry or negative thought. Drop them as you walk and feel a sense of release each time
  • Look for the perfect picture and take it in your mind’s eye to think about before going to sleep

Full Body Lymph Drainage Massage  & Sugar Scrub

Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything.  ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Once you get back from the walk, it is time to completely pamper yourself. Lymphatic drainage is a massage technique where you help move extra fluid that may have built up in your body through your lymph vessels. This type of massage may help you if you suffer from swelling, tenderness, infections, hormone imbalances, fatigue, lupus, depression and/or anxiety. It is also deeply relaxing and, when done with the sugar scrub, can also exfoliate your skin – leaving it feeling wonderfully soft and smooth. To begin, mix a little plant-based oil like coconut, avocado or sweet almond oil with your favorite essential oil and enough sugar to make a paste.

Before you start your massage, spend a few moments relaxing. You want to get your mind and body relaxed to help the massage be as effective as possible.

Take a small scoop of the sugar scrub and rub it into your palms, then cover your eyes with your hands. Take around five deep breaths. Inhale slowly, hold for a moment, then exhale fully. Keep up this slow, steady breathing through the massage.

Slowly start moving your hands down your face in a gently pumping motion, stretching the skin then releasing. Move from your cheeks down the sides of your face and down the neck. Breathe in the scent sweet orange. Savor the feeling of the scrub.

Next, massage the sides of the neck. Apply more scrub to your palms then with your palm flat against the skin start from right under the ear and pump your hand gently down one side of your neck, over the shoulder and down the arm. Once you reach the wrist, roll your hand to the underside of the arm and gently pump your hand up.  When you reach the underarm pause and rub for a moment. As you move your hand remember to breath and think with gratitude. Thank your body silently for what it does for you. Repeat on the other side.

Address your abdomen. Make sure your abdomen muscles are relaxed. Hold the tips of your fingers in the middle of your belly, between the ribcage and navel. Your palm should not touch your skin. Massage in towards the middle and up towards the heart. Use a slightly harder touch here, but the same rhythm. Think about the ways your organs support your health and happiness.

Start at the bottom of the leg and move all the way up with the pumping motion. Use both hands, one on the back of the leg and the other on the inside of the leg. Move the hands towards each other and up as you stretch the skin. Release. Move your hands lower on your leg and repeat the stretch.

After the full body is massaged with the scrub, hop into a steamy shower or tub and totally relax!


Torri’s book is available for purchase here.