Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Gratitude List

A friend of mine explained to me that one of her spiritual practices, each night before bed, is to write a list of everything that she is grateful for. I love this idea, and when I practice it my body immediately feels lighter as my awareness expands to include all that is possible.

The state of being grateful increases our capacity for good things. It allows us to validate the positive and make room for more of it. Studies have shown how gratitude affects our bodies, easing the tension brought on by worry, lowering blood pressure and enhancing our immune system. I have begun talking about a gratitude list as a tool for some of the people I work with around stress-related illness. I notice how quickly their breathing slows and their faces soften, as they realize they can stop fighting what's wrong in their lives and acknowledge that they have a choice about what in their experience they emphasize.

Gratitude is a choice. A person I know who often struggles with not having enough money had been telling me that he was about to be homeless because he couldn't pay the rent. A short time later, he told me about getting some money unexpectedly, so he was able to stay. He then went on to talk about how bad things are for him, barely making it by the skin of his teeth. His thoughts of lack are creating alot of difficulty. What he didn't even see was the tremendous gift he had just been given, in getting the money he needed! What we put our attention on, we cause to grow in our lives.

Our lives are meant to glorify the creator within. Holding on to limiting beliefs does not honor what is most true about us. In any situation of seeming lack, whether it be not enough money, not enough time or love or recognition, we are able to change our perspective and the course of our lives. Cultivating a feeling of gratitude instantly changes our experience from one of disappointment and wanting to one of creativity and abundance.

My gratitude list is long, and tonight I plan to rewrite it. I don't mind that when I rewrite it many of the same things come up each time, because I can appreciate and validate them yet again. In acknowledging the good in my life, I make room for more.

Be grateful for your gifts, large and small. Don't let them go unnoticed. Just behind every belief in lack lies our ability to consciously look for the good. That is our birthright, and worth being thankful about. Through it all, we live. We laugh and cry and strive and wonder. Our hearts beat on, allowing us the miracle of expressing the divine through our own unique humanness.

May this tool be a blessing. . .

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