Gratitude is a big one, not necessarily a simple one and there are many, many ways to approach it as a subject.
I would like to focus on what it can contribute to our lives, why I believe it is something that is worth focusing on, worth practicing.
Practicing, because feeling grateful is so very much easier said than it is felt and it takes some commitment in order to experienced a feeling of deep gratitude.
In a spiritual context it is an emotion that is considered a great achievement and very worth practicing, here meaning to include it into you daily life and becoming more and more aware of it. The highest achievement being, to feel gratitude for all that comes and for all that goes. To fully appreciate and accept all the blessings received all the kindness, all the luck, all the many chances and opportunities as well as the ability to give thanks for all the opportunities and learnings that can be drawn from painful, experiences and losses.
I recently met a woman, who had been married to the man of her dreams for almost 30 years until he died of a heart attack, completely unexpected.
When we met, it had only been a couple of month since her husband had passed.
I was very touched be her story as I could sense the deep love that they had shared in her words as well as feel her grief about the loss of her husband, her friend, her partner, her companion.
The conversation had a strong focus on all the things that she was grateful for, all the opportunities and chances this loss had brought to her life and how the pain was did not darken her light of gratitude for all that she had received from being with him.
I felt her determination to be grateful, to focus on the positive while at the same time honoring the pain of the loss. Somehow both were alive in her.
There was a glow and beauty about her that spoke not of devastation and grief, but of grace and peace.
What this encounter inspired in me, was to once again appreciate the power of gratitude, it´s beauty and also it´s complexity.
In practicing gratitude, we practice acceptance and surrender, living in the now with all that is and all that is not. It requires letting go of all the ideas and plans for the future, to focus on the present and to make peace with it. When focusing on the positive, it guides us away from all ideas of blame and all concepts of right and wrong, of trying to understand.
Gratitude can be uplifting and humbling at the same time, it is as intricate as it is simple.
When the heart is open, willing and ready to truly surrender, to let everything be as it is, when everything is welcome, everything is appreciated, all is understood, gratitude may naturally surface by itself, spreading through our body and soul like a warm shower of pure bliss.
On days in which we feel the world is working against us and all that could possibly go wrong actually does, it is not easy to acknowlegde all that is good, the mind is simply too distracted with irritation.
Yet nothing has changed much, or maybe even everything has, but all that we can appreciate and all we esteem, is still there. Nothing is lost, it is just the perspective that has shifted.
To catch this instant in which all is doomed to turn dark and gloomy and at least acknowledge that without light, there can be no darkness, is not always easy, but so rewarding when achieved.
When practicing mindfulness, we practice gratitude, when practicing self care and love, we practice gratitude. It can transform any unpleasant moment into a more pleasant one, as it has the power to bring things into perspective and to shift the focus to a more positive one.
Gratitude may not be the first thing you feel, but slowly, slowly, it will find it´s way into your life and with it, it´s transforming and healing power.
Note: Our guest author Charu Hermsdorf is a friend of Cal Reiets and the co-founder of DIMA Mallorca, Centre for Conscious Living (www.dimamallorca.com).