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  • Writer's pictureThalien Colenbrander

HEALING HABIT #1 - expressing gratitude

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

Healing has become a bit - or a lot - of a fluffy buzzword these days. What does it even mean? And how real is it? Is it just the wellness industry convincing us we’re broken and traumatised (another buzzword) in order to sell us fluffy, ‘spiritual’ antidotes? Or is it the other way around? The masses are suffering from spiritual famine and so, being the creative species that we are, we come up with a myriad healing remedies?

I have the impression that once upon a time, the term heal or healing most often referred to physical healing. Like healing a wound, healing from a badly sprained ankle. Over the last decades, the term has fanned out to include overcoming difficulties of emotional, mental and even spiritual disarray. Merriam-Webster offers multiple definitions in this arena, like to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome and to restore to original purity or integrity.

For me, the word ‘healing’ means returning to a felt sense of wholeness and interconnectedness. There’s nothing fluffy about this. We humans are evolutionarily hardwired for connection. When that connection (to ourselves, to others, to nature) is thwarted, we suffer. It's that simple. There is 1 common denominator whenever I experience any level of emotional anguish: it’s feeling disconnected. The thoughts associated with this feeling are always ones of unfavourable comparison and not-enoughness.

Why all this struggle? I used to despair - and sometimes still do. What can’t we all just be happy all the time? The answer, invariably is, is that we cannot have one without the other. How could we identify, know and appreciate light if there is no dark? Beauty without the ugliness? Love without aversion?

The purpose of life is to grow. Look around you. Everything is continuously in a state of change, growth, expansion, evolution. We depend on the darkness and the subsequent soul-searching to propel us to grow, to reach for the light, to awaken. We grow stronger individually through our unique paths. As we walk, leap, trip, bite the dust, get up, we lean on other fellow humans who are on parallel paths. And so the webs that binds us grows stronger too, elevating and strengthening the human species as a whole.

And so I have a healthy appreciation and respect for times of darkness. At the same time, I know it’s not my purpose to roll around in it, but rather to grow and rise above it. This is what the Buddhist symbol of the lotus in the mud refers to. So how do we do this, this healing business? I have a whole list of healing habits in place to facilitate this. Note how I write to facilitate healing. Which is different from fixing. A helm of grass won’t grow faster if we pull it. Change and the blossoming of consciousness takes times. And sometimes we need to learn the same lesson(s) over and over again. So be it. And so I can facilitate the process and allow things to unfold in her own time. This patience is a healing habit in and of itself! So with any of these practises, don’t expect an instant fix, although they do have an instant effect.

With my upcoming retreat on this topic, I’ve been thinking a lot about my habits lately. Good and bad. Those that provide instant gratification but burn me in the long run. Like messiness, overeating, procrastination and the tendency to overthink my relationships. These habits need to be tweaked or discarded to stand in my full power. And then the habits that nurture me, make me feel whole and connected. In other words, healing habits. To name a few:

Staying connected to my loved ones. Entrusting at least 1 person with my deepest fears, shame, vulnerabilities. Singing, making music, having a morning ritual, practising self-compassion. Movement. Self-inquiry. Accountability. Making myself my fave spicy red lentil stew on cold days. There are so many. But in the top 5 for sure is EXPRESSING GRATITUDE.

​We hear about the importance of cultivating gratitude all the time. It anchors us in a sense of contentment or even abundance, it directs our attention to positivity and fosters a sunny way of looking at life. The cherry on top of all this, however, is not just feeling the gratitude, but expressing it too. As motivational writer William Arthur Ward wrote:

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”.

Joy, when shared, multiplies. The same goes with gratitude. For example, try expressing gratitude to an in-law for being such a great partner to your sibling and parent to your cousins. I did this recently, and it made me feel sooo good (and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law responded so sweet!). Just send that person a card or WhatsApp message with a message of thanks. If you think it’d be awkward, imagine turning the tables. How would you feel if someone seemingly out of the blue offered you a heartfelt word of thanks for simply you being you and doing what you do? Seen, humbled, touched, connected, grateful?🙏

I’ll be sharing some more of my healing habits in blog posts to come, running up to The Healing Habits Retreat, 21-26 January in Andalusia, Spain. You’re welcome to join me and dharma teacher & therapeutic counsellor Charlotte Adler on this special retreat. It’s the perfect time to assess, align and adopt or ditch habits in accordance with our intentions for the new year.

We're offering a delicious and intelligent potion of insightful dharma talks, powerful brain hacks, yoga, mindfulness practices, sound healing, dance, crazy good food and so much more!

The €100 discount is still valid till January 9th 2023. Click here for all the details.

Love, Thalien xx

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