First of all I’d like to congratulate us – it’s been two weeks since we began our gratitude challenge – we’re half way through– well done us!!! My apologies once again for not being able to post yesterday – and gratitude to the internet that made a come back.
I know that stopping and exerting gratitude 10 times every day isn’t an easy task to adopt and I’m really proud of us for our commitment and dedication.
Today, I’d like to offer you some ideas for a gratitude sign which might help you during the coming couple of weeks. A gratitude sign is anything we decide that will be used as a reminder to stop and be grateful. It can be anything we choose really – ranging from a ring tone, a stop sign or a repeated word we hear. The point is that every time we see or hear or being reminded of that sign we will stop inwardly and exert gratitude to something or someone. Thus, it better be a something you see or hear regularly.
“My” mindfulness sign
Before I set off to Nepal to “sit meditation for two years” I tried out many tricks to remember to be mindful more regularly throughout my days.
The best way I found was a really cool gadget known as the mindfulness clock. It’s a software of a meditation clock which can be set either as a meditation timer or a mindfulness sign.
I’ve been uploading that software onto every computer I used since 2006. I’ve always set to it ring randomly. And every time it rang I stopped and applied mindfulness to whatever it is that I was doing at that particular moment.
A Pavlovian Conditioning
Before I became a “professional yogi(ni)” I used to manage a rather busy public outreach department of an Israeli peace and human rights NGO and I had the mindfulness clock installed on my office’s computer as well. Since it was set to randomly ring 15 times a day, the computer would regularly ring during meetings and training, much to the amusement of my colleagues and employees.
The first time new people were exposed to the clock was always very joyous. Imaging a meeting of five serious people discussing serious matters of the conflict in the West Bank when all of the sudden a powerful sound of a Tibetan bowl disturbs the room. Since no-one really expected the computer to sing this way everyone were looking rather surprised and confused. Except me. I was giggling.
Then, for the following six months, every time the computer sang, they were giggling and I imagine it was accompanied with a thought along the lines of “this is yet another one of Adva’s weird things”. Still, I patiently explained the purpose of the mindfulness clock every time someone looked like they needed an explanation.
However, with time not only my colleagues stopped giggling, if we were holding a meeting in my office and the bell rang they themselves would pause, allowing me to do my “thing” and be mindful. Eventually, some of them even joined me and whenever they were around when the computer sang they themselves paused and took a deep breath, some would automatically even make a yoga mudra.
And that, my friends, is how you create a Pavlovian conditioning
Different kinds of signs
However, you don’t need to let everyone around know that you practice gratitude. A sign doesn’t need to be public or loud. It is up to your preferences and personality. And it doesn’t have to be the mindfulness clock. But it should be something that you encounter repeatedly during your day. It could be the ringtone of your mobile, a stop sign or a red traffic light, every cup of coffee you drink, every time you wash the dishes or every time you change a diaper. Or it could be something that has to do with your trade. The other day for example, I was discussing a mindfulness sign with one of my vi-passana students who is a psychoanalyst and I suggested that he would pause inwardly to be mindful every time someone says the word “mother”. It kinda freaked him out though, to be mindful so much of his time… but you get the idea.
It is important that the sign would be something you encounter or do repeatedly a number of times every day as we try to generate gratitude at least ten times a day. In that sense, a blue stop sign is not a very good gratitude sign….
It’s OK to forget
It’s ok if you forget. No-one knows anyways. As soon as you remember just express gratitude. Simply be grateful for remembering to be grateful. No blame, no guilt and no putting ourselves down for forgetting. Those are absolutely irrelevant in our Gratitude practice – or in our lives….
Share your signs
And please do share with us your gratitude signs to give others ideas as to what can be used as a sign.
May we be happy. May we live with a grateful heart. May we soon abandon the need for a gratitude sign.