"Gratitude opens the door to... the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude." --Chopra
It's challenging to cultivate gratitude when life feels so difficult. Sometimes I'll find myself feeling guilty that I'm not more grateful so I'll force myself to do gratitude lists which only makes things worse since now I have proof of all things I'm supposed to be grateful for except for the fact that I'm too selfish and ungrateful to see them.
Pretending to be grateful can further disconnect the mind, body and spirit and lead to a deeper sense of separation and loneliness.
While it makes sense that the "attitude of gratitude" is the key to inner peace, if it's not authentic it can create more dissonance than coherence. Why is this? Because when gratitude is only a concept in the mind it's like putting on a happy mask (no pun intended), there's no substance. It's like a fake plastic turkey that looks nice in a Thanksgiving photo but isn't edible.
So how do you manage the dilemma of pretending to be grateful if you're not?
The practice is simple but often counterintuitive; you become present. This is where Buddhist teacher Tara Brach's RAIN exercise from the book Radical Acceptance is helpful.
Recognize -- To realize that you are feeling ungrateful is the first step. We are so conditioned to not feel negative emotions; we push them away or pretend they aren't there. (Alcohol or drug addiction is often a result of providing temporary relief from feeling negative feelings.)
Carl Jung said, "what you resist persists," which means the way out is through. Experiencing what is arising with curiosity creates space for stuck emotions to be processed and integrated.
Allow. -- Let feelings be there without repression or dissociation. Welcome whatever energy arises.
Investigate -- Drop the narrative about the feelings and notice body sensations ; clenched jaw, shallow breathing, etc...?
Nurture --If possible, meet this energy with compassion and see what might be helpful. (Kind words, allowing yourself to feel what you feel without judgment or reactivity, bringing yourself to nature.)
When I don't have the capacity to invite gratitude, mindfulness opens space to be with what's there. Being grateful that I can see ingratitude keeps me honest with myself and others. With practice, I find that the part of me that is ungrateful softens when held in a larger whole.
Tomorrow I'm heading to New Hampshire for the week and will not be facilitating our zoom call.
I have attached a recorded guided meditation. Also, for those who would like to gather and chat, my zoom room will be open from 6:30pm-8pm tomorrow evening (Tuesday). Please notice the password is: mindful.
I am truly grateful for this group and people who read my words. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving (and if you're not feeling happy this year, that's okay too.)
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
16 Minute Guided Meditation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1c-K0kqyaMZugmFX8AQ-gJ3Yi1YMFc8Qe/view?usp=sharing ----------------------------------