Gratitude as Mindfulness

Mindfulness Teacher Shahara Godfrey shares her thoughts on gratitude during this holiday season, as well as a special poem by Naomi Shihab Nye.


The purpose of practicing mindfulness in our daily lives is to be present to what is actually going on…not to what we want it to be or hope it to be.

Everything we are learning about mindfulness is interrelated: the breath, the body, feelings and thoughts…they are interwoven together like a beautiful quilt.

As you know, this is the holiday season and there is very much to be grateful for. This is also a time to remember those who have less or experience deep sadness.

In the past few weeks, we have been witness to profound suffering in many African American communities across the country based on recent events. No one is exempt from feeling something about this…it can be feelings of confusion, sadness, outrage, frustration, guilt, shame, hopelessness, and numbness, to name a few. What do we do when we have such strong feelings? And is there something we have to do? There are no easy answers for anyone’s suffering. How do we hold our own feelings of fear, confusion, compassion, numbness, boredom, or outrage as a place to begin to understand the sorrow of others?

With all that goes on in our life, sometimes we forget to appreciate or have gratitude for ourselves, our families or difficult events. Difficult events can be catalyst for changes as well.

I want to share part of a poem with you: Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

For the holidays give yourself and others a gift of kindness in the midst of such deep sorrow…this too is gratitude.

– Shahara Godfrey, Mindfulness Teacher