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Gratitude Archives - Peacock Tree Yoga

Counting your Conkers

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Ahhh, bountiful Autumn. It’s so kind of nature to let go of her abundant creation of the past year, in a grand final display of fruits, vegetables, legumes and cereals. And so kind of her, too, to offer us this opportunity to recognise and be grateful for our own ‘harvests’, and make way for the growth and expansion that will lead to next year’s.

 

Finding time for gratitude

Unfortunately, being grateful on a personal level doesn’t happen as easily as donating some tinned food to the local harvest festival. There’s rarely time to reflect on what we as individuals have completed or produced over the previous year. Finishing things generally means we can simply get on with the next job. But it’s essential that we follow the rhythm of the earth and make time for ‘completion’, for the sake of our self-worth and our peace of mind, as Mark Williams and Danny Penman note:

“If you can practise cultivating a sense of completeness – even a glimmer, right now, in this moment, with the little things in life, there is a chance that you will be better able to cope with those aspects of mind that keep telling you that you are not there yet; and not yet happy, not yet fulfilled. You might learn that you are complete, whole, just as you are.”

~ Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World

Letting go of old leaves…

Autumn’s lessons don’t end with gratitude. As well as encouraging us to acknowledge what we have and have done – our own cycles of creation – nature instructs us to graciously let go of some things, too.

Autumn leaves for harvest blogTrees don’t desperately cling onto their leaves because they might need them next year. Yet us humans have a tendency to defy the cycle and hold onto what we’ve produced or collected – those decayed leaves, that old negativity, those old ideas, those friendships or relationships that don’t serve us… Like plants and trees, we need to return to our essence, value the life lessons, and eliminate what we no longer need in order to blossom and reap our harvest next year.

 

Your body, the tree

It’s not just the events, objects and relationships in our lives to which we can apply Mother Earth’s lessons in gratitude and letting go. Our bodies need attention too – the right kind of attention, a nourishing and helpful kind of attention.

Daniel Tree RievaulxWe have an odd relationship with our bodies. On the one hand we identify with them strongly. We tend to despair when they become sick, suffer agonies over how others perceive our appearance, take it personally when they show signs of ageing, and sometimes spend large amounts of time and money in order to look our best. On the other hand, we neglect them, fill them with unhealthy foods, and use them in ways that cause them damage.

Being grateful for what our bodies can do results in a tendency to look after ourselves better, and it allows us to grow older and less able gracefully. Why? Because gratitude brings us joy. It’s a deeply healing practice that allows us let go of resentment towards our bodies. Have a go with the exercise below, be flooded with gratitude, let go of old criticisms, and notice how your body is seemingly relieved to be appreciated.

Practising bodily gratitude

  1. Notice each part of the body in turn and say thank you. It’s important to articulate the words clearly in your mind.
  2. Notice any sensations that are arising as you focus on each part of the body in turn. And say thank you.
  3. Feel extra gratitude if the part of the body you’re focusing on tries to help you each day, but struggles with pain or illness.
  4. Notice your body’s functions: the heart breathing, like a faithful old friend; the lungs pumping away, day and night.
  5. Notice your senses. How fortunate you are to have functioning eyes, ears, a sense of taste, smell, touch, balance!
  6. Notice the act of being aware – your ability to think, reflect, and remember. Even the ability to pay attention.
  7. Notice the joy in your heart.

Guest blog: Gratitude Crumble

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Some people eat humble pie. Katy Wright recommends Gratitude Crumble…

I’ve developed a new morning ritual and I can’t recommend it highly enough. But you do need to live near some brambles, which – luckily for me – I do. In fact, where I live in France, it’s pretty rural, and I have immediate access to all the delights Mother Earth is currently serving up. But even if there’s more concrete than grass where you live, you can still go out on weekend ‘shopping’ trips.

Katy looking at blackberries

Behold the plump berries!

So, my ‘harvest bowl’. Every day it gets filled with blackberries, apples, hazelnuts and, soon, walnuts!! And the act of filling it has become my daily reminder to be grateful. Grateful for the abundance of food growing just metres away from the kitchen in which it will be prepared, and grateful for the abundance in my own life.

But having a lot of fresh produce is a bit like having a lot of money – it comes with responsibility. You can’t just pick blackberries willy nilly and let them go soggy in the fridge. Or watch your apples develop that weird, waxy skin texture that signals impending decay. (The nuts, granted, do have to be left to their own devices – and when they’re ready, I have to practise moderation in the face of delirious greed!).

I’ve found the best way to be responsible with, and respectful towards, my harvest is to make sure it gets eaten and appreciated – by me and anyone else I encounter. And I do that by making the delicious things listed below. There’s something for everyone – unless you’re both vegan and gluten intolerant, in which case, I suggest eating your fruits, berries and nuts in all their unadulterated glory!

Happy foraging!

Katy x


 

How to eat your Autumn harvest

 

Pancakes and blackberriesFlourless Banana Pancakes

These are quick and easy to make, tasty, filling, good for using up ageing bananas, and good for sharing. And they can be made better still by putting blackberries and cinnamon on top! They’re also classed as ‘Paleo‘, so if you eat like a caveman, you’ll like these!

 

apple tree for gratitude blogGratitude Crumble

That’s just my playful name for what is actually a recipe by Paul Hollywood. The only things I do differently are leaving out the seaweed (that’s not a joke – he really does use the stuff in his crumble!) and using salted butter. Oh, and I like it served with crème fraiche. Naturellement.


peach and blackberry bircherAutumn Porridge / Bircher 

No-one can claim to have invented porridge, apart from the oats themselves. And yes, Bircher was invented by a Swiss doctor, but it is basically just a cold version of porridge. So I’m going to lay claim to these variations. You can invent your own versions, too. The ‘Bircher’ on the left contains peach.

 

  • Porridge: Make as usual and then stir in a teaspoon of turmeric, if you’re daring. Put it in a bowl, and add half an apple (chopped into small pieces) and a handful of blackberries. Top it off with some chopped nuts. You can also add cinnamon or, even better, cinnamon pumpkin seeds (for 3 or 4 servings, fry 40g of seeds in ½ tspn of coconut oil along with as much cinnamon as you desire)
  • Bircher: Soak the oats overnight, in half the amount of water/milk you would use if you were cooking it in a pan – so, roughly 1:1. In the morning, stir in some plain yoghurt (it’s up to you how much – depends on your feelings about gloopiness), grate an apple on top, add your blackberries, and top with nuts and pumpkin seeds, either plain or made as described above.