Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. . . . Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Gratitude makes things right. -- Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go Journal
Expressing appreciation is pure gold for how it can change your life on a dime. And it costs nothing but a little mindful attention.
Don’t take my word for it. Try it. Make a list of the things that might give you pause or make you groan or recoil. Perhaps it’s a case of adult-onset acne, the bills that keep piling up, the neighbor who plays her music too loud, or the army of ants that invades your kitchen every spring. Express your appreciation for these things in your life. Welcome them like old friends.
See if by shifting the focus you notice something you hadn’t before. For example, when I began to name all the ants in my kitchen “Beto” (for no particular reason other than I liked that name, and it sounded like vete, which means “go away” in Spanish), I began to have a different relationship with them. They didn’t bug me as much anymore, and, believe it or not, they stopped coming in droves. In fact, come to think of it, they’re not coming around at all anymore.
I now notice that if I extend a kind greeting to a telemarketer instead of hanging up on him or her, I don’t feel so jangled afterwards. I have also noticed that these calls have all but stopped! When we release the charge we hold around certain people, things, or issues, they fall away.
Giving Thanks: Magically Stopping the Cycle of Negativity
Giving thanks has a way of magically reducing the charge we hold around things and people. It stops the endless cycle of negativity and releases the offending string. Putting a positive spin on everything is very attractive and will attract more positive energy.
Adopt a daily mantra of “thank you.” Thank the bus driver, the waitress, the mail carrier, the flight attendant, the pilot. Thank your teachers, doctors, store clerks, co-workers. Be grateful for the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the bed you sleep in. Appreciate your family. Acknowledge the miracle of your body to seek balance. Thank the universe for all the support you get (most of which we aren’t even aware of ) and for giving you opportunities to grow. Be grateful for your life. And if you find it’s too hard to do sometimes, act as if you’re grateful. Fake it and feel the resistance that it stirs.
Adopting A Daily Practice In Appreciation
So what are you grateful for? What do you notice when you name and feel your gratitude? What do you notice when you practice the meditation below?
Here are two ways to adopt a daily practice in appreciation:
You can begin right this second with a running one-minute commentary of what you are grateful for, what feels good, what works in your life, what you love.
If you feel a whine or a complaint coming on, catch yourself, snap yourself out of it with a phrase like “strike that” or “stop it,” and reframe the thought with something more uplifting and positive. For example “I’m late” could be turned around to “I made it!”
See if by shifting the focus on the idea of having rather than lacking, you observe something you hadn’t noticed before. If this exercise brings up some charge, take it as a sign to stop and feel.
Alternatively, you can deepen your experience of gratitude and quiet the mind by adopting the meditation described below and following up with the reflections in your journal.
Attitude of Gratitude Meditation
If you do nothing else to further your quest for a lighter home and a clearer life, go for this simple daily practice. It was inspired by and adapted from a simple, nondenominational meditation technique I learned years ago from a group of monks called the Ishayas when I was living in Mexico.
It goes like this:
1. Find a comfortable place to sit.
2. Close your eyes and take a nice, easy breath in, then a slow, emptying breath out. Continue to breathe deeply until you feel very relaxed.
3. Insert this first phrase into your awareness: “Thank you, ______ [fill in with your own concept of the Divine or your idea of a higher power—which could be anything or anyone and can change over time], for my home.”
4. Allow your thoughts to come and go, and notice what it feels like.
5. Repeat the same phrase if you wish, or move on to the next one: “Thank you, ______, for my body.”
6. Notice your thoughts again. Notice any tightness or resistance in your body. Notice your breathing.
7. Repeat the final phrase: “Thank you, ______, for my life.”
8. Go easy. Avoid the tendency to move too fast.
9. Open your eyes when you feel complete. Take a nice, easy breath in, then a slow, emptying breath out. Wiggle your fingers and toes.
10. Write down your reflections by following the prompts in the clearing journal below.
After you’ve had a chance to practice the Attitude of Gratitude Meditation, take a moment to complete the following.
Some of the sensations that I notice and feel in my body when I express gratitude are _______
What goes through my mind when I express gratitude is _______
How and why it is easy for me to be grateful for everything is _______
Ways that I can adopt an attitude of gratitude more regularly into my life are _______
©2012 by Stephanie Bennett Vogt, MA. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hierophant Publishing.
Dist. by Red Wheel/Weiser, Inc. www.redwheelweiser.com
This article was adapted with permission from:
Your Spacious Self: Clear the Clutter and Discover Who You Are
by Stephanie Bennett Vogt.
With inspiring lessons, humorous stories, and nourishing practices in slowing down, simplifying, and self-care, longtime space clearing expert, Stephanie Bennett Vogt, shows you how to clear your home, quiet the mind, and restore your spirit, in ways that feel good and last a lifetime. Included are daily tips and meditations, a weekly worksheet, and six sample meeting agendas designed for book groups and "clearing circle" support groups.
About the Author
Stephanie Bennett Vogt, MA, is the author of the award-winning and re-released Your Spacious Self: Clear the Clutter and Discover Who You Are, and a contributing author of Pearls of Wisdom with Jack Canfield, Marci Shimoff, et. al. and The Thought That Changed My Life Forever with Bernie Siegal, et. al. As New England’s leading space clearing expert she brings over thirty-five years of experience to SpaceClear, the teaching and consulting practice she founded in 1996 helping homes and their occupants come into balance. Stephanie teaches her inspirational clearing programs at centers worldwide. Visit her at www.spaceclear.com