For Amy Galper, gratitude is the simplest way to find love
Founder of the New York Institute for Aromatherapy describes the connection she feels to the natural world and how this has shaped her gratitude practice.
Amy Galper, founder and Executive Director of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy, has built a life that is defined by connection and balance. Whether she’s navigating the busy streets of Manhattan or a remote cabin in The Catskills, Amy cultivates a sense of gratitude for the connection she feels to her environment and her experiences.
Here are Amy’s thoughts on how embracing every moment in life with love can lead to gratitude.
If you can feel love, I think gratitude is right there with you.
Unplug and connect with nature
You spend part of your time in New York, and part of your time upstate in a remote cabin. What is it like to really get away from it all?
It’s amazing to be able to digitally detox and really get away from all kinds of distractions. When you’re in an urban environment, you don’t really have the same ability to hear yourself and your body as you do when you’re fully surrounded by the natural world.
While I’m at the cabin, I have no cell service and no electricity, and that’s when I can really start to hear myself think. After I’m there for a day or so, I start to realize how much technology affects me. Even when my phone is off and not on my body, I will feel it buzzing, even though it’s nowhere near me. Experiencing that incredible stillness and silence without any energy from electronics is very powerful.
Sometimes when friends visit from the city, they’ll be a bit frightened or disconcerted because the environment feels so different. At first, they think they need all the noise and lights to make them feel comfortable. After a day or two, they start to pick up on all the sounds that are coming from nature, start to recognize their own thoughts, and become a lot more comfortable.
When you think about it, there’s nothing we truly need in the city that isn’t also available in remote spaces. All those modern, built, digital things distract us from ourselves. I am so grateful for the opportunity to just be, in nature, and understand the relationship we have to the earth.
Let go of control
What lesson can we all learn from the power of stillness and just being, whether in nature or in our busy, urban lives?
To me, allowing yourself to let go of control is such a powerful thing. We can put forth great effort - and we should, as human beings - to raise our consciousness, but we have no control of the outcome. When we let go, when we release our expectations and open ourselves up true understanding, that’s the real blessing.
That which has created the outcome has created everything around us, and when we embrace that idea, gratitude starts to show up for us. Thinking this way helps me be grateful for every experience, without judging them as good or bad.
Think beyond yourself
What do you think can hold us back from realizing the benefits of gratitude?
I think we live in a self-focused society, where we are often thinking more of ourselves than others. What this kind of thinking does is separate us from each other. When we are focusing entirely on ourselves, we forget that everything and everyone around us is having an impact. When things are uncomfortable in our lives, we can tend to see it as our fault, or that we are the victim - we keep the focus on us and create pain in our lives.
Where we put our focus is our choice. We can choose to see ourselves as connected, and that our experiences are shaped by how we respond to the situation we find ourselves in. When we make a choice to let go of our expectations - both of ourselves and others - that’s when we step into a place of gratitude.
It’s all about love
How do you define gratitude?
I think if you really practice gratitude, what you are really practicing is love, because love is about generosity, graciousness and compassion. Being grateful is loving all the things that are part of your experience - the bad things and the good things are all there for a reason.
It’s not enough to be grateful for the good things, because that’s only part of life. Even if something in your life is stressful, there’s a good side to that stress, and it’s something to be grateful for. Approaching life with an open heart is what cultivates a deeper sense of love, and if you can feel love, then I think gratitude is right there with it.
Learn more about Amy and the New York Institute of Aromatherapy.