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Diane Dreher's Tao of Inner Peace Blog

Harvest and Gratitude

In the golden days of autumn, the great wheel of time turns from summer to fall. For centuries, our agrarian ancestors measured time by the seasons as the agricultural year took them on a spiritual journey through the annual cycles of life. Each month brought new lessons, as alternating seasons of darkness and light prompted them to seek deeper meaning beneath the busy surface of their days.


In this season of autumn, our ancestors brought in their last harvests, put away food for the coming winter, and joined together in rituals of thanksgiving. The ritual of giving thanks for the harvest has long been celebrated in cultures around the world. The American holiday of Thanksgiving is one example, and one of the few traditions that still unites our often painfully divided country.    


At a time when the US surgeon general has declared a loneliness epidemic in our country, now, more than ever we can benefit from practicing gratitude. According to psychologist Robert Emmons, PhD, practicing gratitude can help us overcome loneliness and isolation by making us feel closer and more connected to others. Beginning a new habit of practicing gratitude can restore our connection to nature and one another, and bring a deeper sense of meaning to our lives. Throughout many decades of research, Emmons has found that gratitude can help relieve depression and anxiety, improve our relationships, bring us greater joy and meaning, and restore our hope in challenging times.[i]


Today, amid the brightly colored autumn leaves, golden pumpkins, and seasonal celebrations, we can to take time from our busy lives to reflect on the gifts of the past seasons and participate in this ritual of giving thanks.


Here are some simple ways to practice gratitude:

  • Begin each day with gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, think of one thing you're looking forward to that day.
  • Give thanks before meals. You can do this silently or make it a practice to give thanks with family and friends as you share a meal together.
  • Pause during the day to appreciate the beauty of the world around you.
  • Make it a point to thank people.
  • Send a gratitude letter or thank you card to someone who has helped you or brought joy into your life.
  • Keep a gratitude journal—write down three things you're grateful for at the end of each day.


I wish you joy, gratitude, and peace in this golden season of autumn.

[i] Emmons, R. A. (2007). Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Emmons cites decades of research and offers a wealth of insights on the positive effects of gratitude.

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Heart Centered Meditation

The HeartMath Institute in Northern California has found that meditation promotes greater peace of mind by creating coherence—more harmonious heart rhythms and greater balance in our nervous systems. They've developed various forms of heart coherence meditation, which can reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and lead to better health. [1] Recent research has shown that people who practiced heart coherence meditation daily for four weeks experienced positive changes in their brains.[2]


Demonstrating how we are all interconnected, HeartMath researchers have found that when we achieve greater heart coherence, our energies can promote greater peace of mind in those around us. [3]


Heart coherence meditations combine mindful breathing with an added focus on the heart. Here is a short way to practice this today:


  • Focus your attention on the center of your chest, in the area of your heart. You can place your hand on your heart to help you focus.
  • Breathe slowly and mindfully, imagining that your breath is flowing in and out of your heart.  Don't force your breathing. Just let it flow smoothly and easily in a rhythm that feels good to you.
  • As you continue heart-focused breathing, recall a time when you felt joy, appreciation, or care for a special person, pet, or place that you enjoy. Keep this feeling in mind as you continue breathing slowly and mindfully, focusing on your heart.
  • When you catch your mind wandering, return your focus to your heart.[4]


You can practice heart coherence meditation for ten minutes or more as a regular meditation practice. When you're feeling stressed, you can also use this as a "quick coherence" technique for a minute or two to gain greater peace of mind. 


I wish you joy on the path.


[1] Childre, D., Martin, H., Rozman, D., & McCraty, R. (2016). Heart intelligence: Connecting with the intuitive wisdom of the heart. Waterfront Press, p. 31.

[2] Min, J., Rouanet, J., Cadete Martini, A., Nashiro, K., Yoo, H. J., Porat,S., et al. (2023). Modulating heart rate oscillation affects plasma amyloid beta and tau levels in younger and older adults. Scientific Reports, 13, 3967.

[3] Childre, D., Martin, H., Rozman, D., & McCraty, R. (2016). Heart intelligence: Connecting with the intuitive wisdom of the heart. Waterfront Press, p. 127.

[4] Childre, D., & Rozman, D. (2005). Transforming Stress: The HeartMath Solution for Relieving Worry, Fatigue, and Tension. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications. Description of this heart coherence meditation on pages 44-45.


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