10 May The Open Secret of Gratitude & Mindfulness
Before we fall into procrastination, stress eating, isolation, habitually engaging our phones or any other addictive behavior, there’s a thought. The thought is something like, I need to get away from something uncomfortable that’s here or at times, I want the good feeling that’s here to last.
One of the most powerful ways I have found to change the atmosphere of the mind is a very simple gratitude practice.
Now, before your eyes roll you need to know this: Thoughts may be arising in your mind right now such as, “not this gratitude stuff again, I’ve read this in a thousand places.” If you notice this thought, ask yourself, what is the net effect of this thought here? Does it incline you to move toward this practice that you’ve heard about a thousand times or away from it? The answer is most likely that it inclines you away from it.
We have received an inestimable gift. To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe—to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it—is a wonder beyond words. It is an extraordinary privilege to be accorded a human life, with self-reflexive consciousness that brings awareness of our own actions and the ability to make choices. It lets us choose to take part in the healing of our world.
Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Yet we so easily take this gift for granted. That is why so many spiritual traditions begin with thanksgiving, to remind us that for all our woes and worries, our existence itself is an unearned benefaction, which we could never of ourselves create.
The great open secret of gratitude is that it is not dependent on external circumstance. It’s like a setting or channel that we can switch to at any moment, no matter what’s going on around us. It helps us connect to our basic right to be here, like the breath does. It’s a stance of the soul. In systems theory, each part contains the whole. Gratitude is the kernel that can flower into everything we need to know.
Practicing gratitude is encouraged by most religions and facets of spirituality. You may not think that something so small can impact you in a grand manner, but taking the first step and just beginning is what matters. Changing set patterns of thinking might be difficult at first, but as you practice gratitude more often, you may realize that being thankful could be a very simple and wonderful thing to do.