Gratitude for all

 

Gratitude and appreciation is a practice, and it is also a natural expression of who we are when less clouded over by beliefs.

It’s rewarding and helpful to find gratitude for what’s obviously good in my life. It helps me shift attention from my complaints to what is pretty good in life.

And it is even more powerful to include all without exception, including and especially that which I at first don’t appreciate. This helps me find the ground below likes and dislikes, and a softening of identification with my own familiar beliefs about what’s good and bad.

The simplest form of gratitude practice is to repeat thank you – to life, God, the Universe.

And this one can be made into a heart prayer, said with the beats of the heart and the breath.

Another helpful practice is to write a list of what it’s easy to be grateful for, and – more powerfully – including what I don’t like in my life. Today, I am thankful for….

It may feel hollow at first, and then, after a while, there may be a shift – a shift into genuine gratitude for what happens, as it is.

Not because it alignes with the preferences of my personality or may be a stepping stone to something desirable, but for what it is here and now.

If I only find gratitude for what appears good to me, it comes from and reinforces my habitual views of good and bad, right and wrong. If I expand this to include whatever happens, and especially that which I don’t like, there is another shift. A softening of my habitual views, a quiet – perhaps almost imperceptible – curiosity about and questioning of these views, a shift into receptivity, a shift into closer alignment with reality – with recognizing all as God’s will.

Is it really a practice? Yes, in a limited sense. But more accurately, it is an uncovering of the gratitude that is naturally here behind beliefs, shoulds, fears and hopes, and an expression of this gratitude. We practice first, and then may find that it becomes a natural expression of gratitude.

The first practice – thank you for all as a prayer – is familiar to me, as is writing down what I see as desirable in my life. The second form, writing a gratitude list including that which appears less desirable, is new for me. I got into it from reading Make Miracles in Forty Days on the blog Crossroads Dispatches.

I signed up for the forty day miracle project and also ordered the book. I’ll post a report on both after the forty days, if not sooner.

The book is Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have Into What You Want by Melody Beattie.

Note: To find things for my list, it is good to look at what’s alive for me here now, and make it as concrete and specific as possible. Also, I can ask myself questions such as: What don’t I like in my life right now? What are the problems? What do I complain about? What should be different? What am I ashamed about? What do I most want to keep a secret? What’s not right? What do I fear? In short, what am I not grateful for, in the world or in myself?

Update: I started reading Make Miracles in Forty Days and it seems insightful and helpful. One thing I noticed was that the author, on page 56, suggests that some things are outside of what she can be grateful for, such as the death of her son. It’s obviously where she is now, and no absolute rule. I find that The Work is a great way for me to question those type of assumptions in myself.

Also, she says she cannot find any benefits to resistance. When I explore, I find a great deal of genuine benefits in resistance. It’s how the infinite gets to experience itself as finite. It’s how the appearance of a separate I is created, and how any belief is created. It is what creates and makes possible the infinite richness of perceiving existence through the filters of I and Other and the great number of beliefs possible for us. Resistance to (a) fear and (b) not knowing is what creates this whole wonderful world of mistaken identities, and makes God’s game of hide and seek possible. It is what makes the experience of delusion and awakening, wounds and healing, right and wrong, here and there, now and then, attraction and aversion, loss and gain, and anything else we know from human life possible.

Update 2: By intentionally including emotions in the gratitude list (I am grateful for being angry about…..) there is more appreciation of emotions in general, and more receptivity to see how they support me. It’s very similar to what I find through – for instance – evolutionary psychology and the Big Mind process, just a different angle into it.

Also, when I write “I am grateful for….” I include anything that comes to mind whether I find gratitude for it or now. For me, it is more a question: “How would it be if I experienced gratitude for….?”. Through keeping it as a question for myself, the experience of genuine gratitude – and a shift into finding reasons for this gratitude – often surfaces later on. I may do it differently from what Melodie Beattie recommends, but since I haven’t read the whole book yet, I wouldn’t know 😉

Update 3: After having done this practice a couple of weeks, I notice that the main immediate effect of the practice is self-acceptance. When I include what I am most embarrassed of, there is a sense of softening into self-acceptance. Also, I just remembered that the author talks about “miracles” happening after a while when you do this practice. One of the main miracles in our lives may indeed be self-acceptance, but I prefer to leave expectations of shifts and miracles to the side and instead focus on what I notice happening here and now – with some receptivity and curiosity.

Update 4: I found early on that it seems to work best for me to do the list in the evening, or – if I am by the computer or have a notebook – to start in the morning and add on to the list as the day goes by. My mind is usually quiet in the morning, so if I try to write a list then, I am lucky if I can get one or two lines down. Later in the day, there is far more material to put down, and there is also more vulnerability here in late afternoon and evening. This is a little different from what MB recommends, but it works for me. (My gratitude partner just shared that it’s this way for her as well.)

So here is a brief summary of what I have found works for me that’s a little different from what MB recommends or how she talks about it: (1) When I write I am grateful for…. I keep it as a question in my own mind: how would it be to be grateful for….? (2) When I find a taboo in myself against including a situation, thought, emotion or action, I use this as an invitation to find the belief behind it, and then inquire into that belief to find what’s more true for me. (3) Right now, it seems that adding to the list throughout the day, or writing it in the evening, works best for me. There is more material to include in the evening, and I am more receptive and vulnerable (after being humbled a whole day!).

Here are two other posts on this topic: Gratitude Update, Make Miracles in Forty Days.

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Initial draft….

Gratitude for all has been a part of my life and practice off and on since I first got interested in those things.

It’s a good practice to be grateful for what’s obviously good, what my personality and belief systems likes.

And it is even more powerful to include that which I at first don’t appreciate and my stories tell me is bad or wrong.

The simplest form of gratitude practice is to repeat thank you – to life, God, the Universe.

This one can be made into a heart prayer, said with the heart beats and the breath.

Another good practice is to write a list, either of what it’s easy to be grateful for or – more powerfully – also and especially including what I don’t like in my life.

It may feel hollow at first but there is a shift after a while. A shift into genuine gratitude for what happens, as it is.

Not because what happens is something my personality likes, nor because it may have a silver lining or lead to something desirable, but for what it is, as it is, here now.

The first practice – thank you as a prayer  – is familiar to me, and the second – writing it down – is new and something I got into from reading Make Miracles in Forty Days on the blog Crossroads Dispatches.

I signed up and also ordered the book. I’ll post a report on both after the forty days, if not sooner.

The book is Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have Into What You Want by Melody Beattie.

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– (a) gratitude for that which it is easy to be grateful for, (b) gratitude for all, and especially that which it is difficult to find gratitude for – gratitude for all as is (radical/thorough gratitude)
– thank you as heart prayer, or writing lists
– not just a “practice”, but revealing/noticing/finding the gratitude that is naturally here behind/under the layers of beliefs, shoulds, hopes and fears

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  1. gratitude for that which it is easy to be grateful for
    1. helps shift focus, a reminder that life may be better than it appears etc.
    2. yet also comes from and reinforces a split view of the world, good vs bad according to my worldview
  2. gratitude for all, including that which I tend to not be grateful for
    1. undermines the split view, softens it, invites in a quiet questioning of it

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Alternative:

There are two ways to do gratitude practice.

I can find gratitude for that which it is easy to be grateful for. The things my stories and culture tell me are good and desirable such as good friends, shelter, money and so on. This opens for a sense of gratitude and shifts attention to the parts of my life I like. The drawback here is that it is partial. And it comes from and reinforces my ideas of what’s good and desirable and what’s not.

And I can find gratitude for all in my life, whether I like it or not. This is a more powerful practice, and it helps soften and dissolve my habitual ways of looking at what’s desirable and what’s not. When I find genuine gratitude for whatever happens in my life as it is, and not because it has a silver lining or may lead to something desirable, something shifts for me at a deeper level.

Including what I don’t like may feel hollow at first, but after a while, something shifts. I find a genuine gratitude for it, and it becomes easier over time as well.

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….including what I don’t like in my life, what I am most ashamed of, and what I would most like to keep a secret.

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Draft…

Gratitude is an important part of my life and practice, and has been so – off and on – since my late teens.

It’s rewarding and helpful to find gratitude for what’s obviously good in my life.

And it is even more powerful to include all without exception, including and especially that which I at first don’t appreciate.

The simplest form of gratitude practice is to repeat thank you – to life, God, the Universe.

And this one can be made into a heart prayer, said with the beats of the heart and the breath.

Another helpful practice is to write a list of what it’s easy to be grateful for, and – more powerfully – including what I don’t like in my life. Today, I am thankful for….

It may feel hollow at first, and then, after a while, there is a shift. A shift into genuine gratitude for what happens, as it is.

Not because it alignes with the preferences of my personality or may be a stepping stone to something desirable, but for what it is here and now.

If I only find gratitude for what appears good to me, it comes from and reinforces my habitual views of good and bad, right and wrong. If I expand this to include whatever happens, and especially that which I don’t like, there is another shift. A softening of my habitual views, a quiet – perhaps almost imperceptible – curiosity about and questioning of these views, a shift into receptivity, a shift into closer alignment with reality – with recognizing all as God’s will.

Is it really a practice? Yes, in a limited sense. But more accurately, it is an uncovering of the gratitude that is naturally here behind beliefs, shoulds, fears and hopes, and an expression of this gratitude. We practice first, and then may find that it becomes a natural expression of gratitude.

The first practice – thank you for all as a prayer – is familiar to me, as is writing down what I see as desirable in my life. The second form, writing a gratitude list of especially that which appears less desirable to me, is new for me. I got into it from reading Make Miracles in Forty Days on the blog Crossroads Dispatches.

I signed up for the forty day miracle project and also ordered the book. I’ll post a report on both after the forty days, if not sooner.

The book is Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have Into What You Want by Melody Beattie.

Note: To find things for my list, it is good to look at what’s alive for me here now, and make it as concrete and specific as possible. Also, I can ask myself questions such as: What don’t I like in my life right now? What are the problems? What do I complain about? What should be different? What am I ashamed about? What do I most want to keep a secret? What’s not right? What do I fear? In short, what am I not grateful for, in the world or in myself?

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