For our November Drawing Together session, MK Czerwiec asked us to contemplate GRATITUDE
Warm up exercise (5 minutes)
Wendy suggests six possible states of weather, but you may experience others.
The exercise instruction for the warm up is to draw your personal weather today.
As I like to practice this exercise, your weather can be internal, external, or any way you want to interpret the instruction. So draw your weather. Take 5 minutes.
Main exercise: FOCUS on GRATITUDE (30 minutes in segments)
In many ways, this year has been unlike any year we have known previously. In the face of all of the loss, sadness, injustice, anxieties, and pain in the world that have been so present, making a list of what we are grateful for as we near the close of this year seemed uniquely important.
A quick caveat: Let me say that do I approach talking about and taking stock of one’s sense of gratitude with a critical eye. The concept of gratitude has been a bit co-opted, even commodified, for self-help schemes. Gratitude has also been used as a tool to oppress and squelch calls for justice. That is not what our work here today seeks to do. My hope is that as we consider gratitude today, let us seek to remind ourselves of that which strengthens us in our calls for justice, peace, and integrity.
You have perhaps read about studies describing the positive health outcomes that can come from a regular gratitude practice. There are several decent ones out there. In one study of 186 patients, those engaging in a gratitude practice reported better sleep, less fatigue, less depression, more confidence in their ability to care for themselves, and lower levels of systemic inflammation. More research needs to be done, of course, but there are studies that corroborate some of these findings. (Source).
Robert Emmons is a leading expert on the science of gratitude. He states that gratitude has two important aspects:
(from this YouTube video)
- “First,” he writes, “Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”
- In the second part of gratitude, he explains, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Let’s get drawing again.
You can watch the videos for instructions and pause while you draw, or follow the written instructions below.
First, start by taking a few minutes to settle into yourself, take a few deep, relaxing breaths.
Now take 5 minute to think of and list five things that come to mind when you consider gratitude in your life. Try to be as specific and concrete as you can. What are you grateful for today? Make a list of 5 things.
Next, for each item on your list, consider how you would or could concretely represent each of the things on your list. What physical object in the world could be associated with this thing and/or person for which you feel gratitude? So, for example, if it is a person, perhaps an object that represents them is your favorite photo of that person, framed in a special way. If it is walks in the woods, perhaps a leaf from a favorite tree. If it is quiet time, perhaps a cup of tea you drink while spending that time alone. Represent each of thing on your gratitude list with an object. Name or do a quick sketch these objects. Don’t worry about the sketches being perfect, we’ll be drawing them in a moment.
Now imagine a surface or space that can contain all of these objects. Make it a special surface, sacred to you, worthy of holding these objects of gratitude.
In effect, what I am asking you do to is imagine you are going to build for yourself a gratitude altar. I use the word altar in the most generic way here – as a visual focus of your intentions, affirmations, energies. Bring to these gratitude altars any religious affiliations that are resonant to you or none. An altar can simply serve as a place to go be quiet, to re-calibrate your mind, and re-ground your energy in gratitude.
Draw this surface and draw your objects on it, and adorn it in any way you imagine. Take at least 15 minutes to draw your altar.”
Share your drawings on social media #DrawingTogetherGM