Trees have dropped their leaves, and we have only two days before Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Maybe for you, too. In the spirit of this holiday, I’d like to share with you my understanding of gratitude.
It is not something I do automatically. I have to stop and look, and notice the critical voice in me finding what is wrong in the moment, pushing me to make it right, and chastising me for not “doing it right” to begin with. You know what I mean, the inner voice that does not leave me alone?
This voice is my first hint that I am ignoring the gifts of life.
What do I do with this information? I take stock of the feelings this voice is prompting. Usually shame, and definitely anger at myself for being less than everyone else in the world – not good enough. Now that I have recognized this I have a choice – continue to be haunted by that voice, or try something new. I often try to hide from these feelings. But allowing myself to feel my feelings gives me a chance to be accountable for them and reclaim my sense of OK-ness. Something new it is.
When I first noticed this, I began my “something new” by reading books on the subject of forgiveness. (That’s another holiday we need to celebrate, Forgiving Day.) When I used to think of forgiving somebody, I usually came up blank. My mind had ideas, but my body and spirit had nothing, no frame of reference for the concepts. Sure, I knew what people were talking about, but I had no idea how to be forgiving. Same with giving thanks. I had heard so many people pray in humbled tones before the annual family feast and was often inspired by their words. But after the “amen” and the first bite of gravy soaked turkey, I had forgotten them. Whoosh, out of my head. Back to the practice of looking around for what is not right in my life. And thinking about how I can fix it.
The subject of forgiveness led me to gratitude, another concept I had no tangible grid on which to hang meaning. In my reading, I have learned that without gratitude, our hearts can’t be open. We spend our time looking for the problems instead of receiving the solution already available. We are looking so hard at the problem and trying to fix it we miss the goodness, the perfection. If the law of attraction says we attract whatever we focus on most, then I was attracting more failures by not admitting my successes.
It’s kind of like standing in the open door of the cupboard and looking for the can of tuna, knowing that it’s there, but missing it completely; even after removing the cans of chili, soup, tomato sauce, clams (same small can), yet not seeing the tuna can front right. I missed it because I was looking past it, ignoring the obvious, ready for a greater challenge than simply “there it is.” I expected a struggle to find it, and I got what I expected.
In a recent meditation, I experienced a rush of feelings, filled with what the Buddhists call an opening, when all thinking disappears, and I floated in the space inside me. The feelings were both sweet and bitter. Gratitude and grief. I cried, regretting all the times I’d disappointed myself and loved ones. I am grateful for God’s love and care in sending me this true experience of gratitude. After so many years of “missing it,” I have a frame of reference for the experience of gratitude.
Now my daily journal entries pull me to gratitude. The “thank you’s” flow out of me.
Carol Tuttle suggests in her book Remembering Wholeness: A Handbook for Thriving in the 21st Century http://www.amazon.com/dp/1587830299/?tag=mh0b-20&hvadid=7005833469&hvqmt=e&hvbmt=be&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_8swjq31h3c_ to keep a Gratitude Journal with your whole family joining in, expressing what each one is grateful for. My husband and I do that and it seems to reset the tone in the house. It especially helps when I am sad or anxious, trying too hard, having forgotten to receive God’s gifts. Writing in the gratitude journal helps me remember the many things handed to me daily, and the ease and comfort in my life. An abundance of gifts is showering down on all of us, and it’s our choice whether we acknowledge them or not. Noticing and feeling the gratitude filling up our bodies is true joy and delight, and, I am told, allows us to receive even more gifts.
For me, the act of expressing gratitude to ourselves, others, and the divine power is too easily forgotten. That is why it’s a habit we must consciously practice. As often as possible. We can look for opportunities and speak our thanks regularly. Everything we need and want is here for us, and I believe the habit of gratitude helps us be more aware and open up to receiving them.
Next week I’d like to talk about the changes I see in my autoimmune condition after doing the things I speak of on this blog. I’m not saying I have a formula for healing. I don’t think there is one. But there is a daily practice. Your own personal healing practice is what you design for yourself from the many testimonies and research you find here on the internet and in life. I write about and recommend things that work for me so that you might find a link here that sparks you to another question, an understanding, or practice along your own path to health. There is no doubt in my mind that our creator made our bodies to be whole and fully functioning with ease. It’s up to us to discover how to change our thinking and behaviors in order to receive the gift of healing.
Thank you for reading my blog. Knowing you are checking in with me now and then and maybe taking something for yourself is a gift to me. Thank you. And Happy Thanksgiving.