Tis the Season to be Grateful, Next Month We’re Supposed to be Jolly

Saying GraceWhat’s the difference? If you’re jolly, aren’t you grateful? According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the author of THANKS! How the New Science of Gratitude can Make you Happier, while there are many things that we can be happy about, the uniqueness of gratitude is that we realize that we have received a gift that we don’t deserve. It’s “the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life” and secondly “recognizing that the source(s) of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self.” We can only be grateful to others, not to ourselves, so it brings a sense of humility along with the gift (4-8).

Offering grace at the family table, Bart Simpson prayed,

“Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”

Donald Trump stated,

“All of the women on The Apprentice have flirted with me-consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected” (148).

Gratitude is knowing, at a deep level is an appreciation that what we have received was “freely bestowed out of compassion, generosity, or love” (7). The International Encyclopedia of Ethics defines it as “the heart’s internal indicator when the tally of gifts outweighs the exchanges” (6).

Emmons’s research found that when people took the time to write in a gratitude journal, not only did they feel more appreciative about things that they normally overlooked, but they reported–exercising more, sleeping better, experiencing few physical symptoms and feeling more optimistic about their lives. They were more likely to make progress toward their personal goals and to have offered emotional support to others.

Other important healing benefits are that-

Gratitude counters our natural adaption to pleasant events.

Gratitude mitigates toxic emotions and states like envy, resentment, and regret.

Gratitude strengthens social ties.

Gratitude increases one’s sense of personal worth.

Gratitude has a direct link to cardiovascular functioning.

In his intro to the workshop that I attended at Loma Linda Medical School, Emmons described it like this-

“You feel a deep sense of peace and internal balance-you are at harmony with yourself, with others and with your larger environment. You experience increased buoyancy vitality and flow. Your senses are enlivened—every aspect of your perceptual experience seems richer, more texture. Surprisingly, you fell invigorated at time when you would usually have felt tired and drained. Things that usually would have irked you just don’t “get to you” as much. Your body feels regenerated-your mind, at last, clear. . . At least for a period of time, decisions become obvious as priorities clarify and inner conflict dissolves. Intuitive insight suddenly provides convenient solution to problems. . Your creativity flows freely. In this state of inner harmony and deep fulfillment, you experience a sense of greater connectedness—to other people, to a larger whole, perhaps to God, or to a higher aspect of yourself. (From Gratitude as a Way of Life: Insights from the Science of Well-Being, Emmons, 2005)

Heading into the challenges of the holiday season, let’s remember to give ourselves a “gratitude intervention.” Positive results were observed with subjects who only journaled once a day, but here’s the perspective of GK Chesterton-

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play. . . and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, and swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink.”

The Artful Life

Michel Foucault describes the philosophical and religious practices of ancient Greece as an “Aesthetics of Existence.”

What this entails is the idea that there is a potential in life for stylization, for beauty.

There is not simply one master narrative, one truth about who we are and what we must do. There is a potential, instead, to learn new ways of being and becoming. To set new goals. To remake our desires and, in the process, our very selves.

Existence happens at the intersection of language and the flesh. A change in the body produces a change in the mind, in the soul. When we change our ideas, our flesh too is remade and reshaped.

At Technologies of the Self we offer simple and useful techniques for changing both the mind and the body. From meditation and hypnosis to energy work, from Renaissance-era memory techniques to brain nutrition, from analysis to ecstatic breathwork, we have selected methods and theories that work to reshape lives in ways that are beautiful, powerful, and vibrant

Contact us now for a full life coaching experience: Spiritual, Mental, and Holistic. The initial consultation is complimentary.

Email Victoria for more information: victoria@technologiesoftheself.org or call 720-202-3078.

Tarot and Psychoanalysis

I first became interested in the Tarot deck after reading the graphic novel, Promethea, by Alan Moore while studying religion and mysticism at Harvard Divinity School.

Cards from the Thoth Deck
Where before, I had had the idea that the primary purpose of Tarot was divination (or foretelling the future), I now came to understand that the deck could be used as a spiritual tool and was loaded with powerful symbolism borrowed from the Jewish Kabbalah and alchemical medicine.

When the cards are laid out on the table, one engages in an act that can be described in psychoanalytic terms as “projection.” A client will take one look at the Emperor and say “that is my ex-husband” or one look at the nine of coins and say “that is the life that I want to live.”

The cards become, as it were, a mirror of the psyche that can reveal connections between parts of ourselves that we do not wish to see. Reading tarot accurately is not so much a supernatural science as one that involves opening up a space in which projection can occur and aiding the client in understanding what he or she has projected, why he or she have projected it, and how one’s projections will govern, shape, and control one’s life if one is unaware of them.