It’s been a day of goodbyes. Learning to let go with gratitude for what is being left behind. Meditating so I can feel grateful for all the changes as they happen to me.
I know I was taught early to say thank you. In fact please and thank you were the manners expected in my family. I’m not sure as a child that I understood what thank you really meant. It was a phrase I was supposed to say. So I did. Later I started to understand that saying thank you was a form of gratitude. A way of acknowledging something I had been given. Even if I didn’t want it. That confused me. I had to say thank you for things I didn’t want to receive. It had become an automatic response. A polite phrase to hide my real feelings and thoughts. No matter what the motive behind the giving I was supposed to be grateful.
I think I struggled with gratitude for a long time. When I felt obliged to say thank you I know I did so grudgingly. The words were empty of meaning. If someone told me what, in their opinion, I should do with my life I said thank you. When another one told me how I should feel about events in my life I said thank you. If someone made allowances for me becuase I was a woman I said thank you. All the while gritting my teeth and feeling very ungrateful. Yet there were times when people did something unexpected and thank you hardly seemed like enough acknowledgement. Occasions when someone went out of their way to help me but I found it hard to say a simple thank you. I felt driven to make grand gestures of thanks.
When I began learning to meditate I struggled. My mind was full of thoughts that distracted me. One day I was meditating about gratitude. Suddenly my mind started to clear.
The person leading the meditation took us into a garden asking us to notice all the details of where we were. I found myself there very easily. Better still I seemed to be able to feel thankful for the garden in my imagination. As I was guided to sit on a bench someone sat down beside me. It was a person who I felt had cause a lot of strife in my life. Yet this was a meditation about being grateful. How would I be able to feel gratitude for this person? Over many practices I started to feel the love between both of us. To recognise that they had been in my life to help me learn more about the absence of love. And that it wasn’t only me who felt that absence.
Because of the recognition that love underpins gratitude I began to recognise that my grudging thanks to others was telling me something about me. An automatic thank you had no meaning. If I wanted to express my gratitude with true intent my word and energy had to be filled with loving kindness. It was also important to be grateful for myself. If I couldn’t be thankful for me then how could I express thanks in any meaningful way for others. For anything really. Every so often I would return to my garden of gratitude. Finding different people there helped me to let go of all sorts of disruptive feelings. I began to feel at peace with and even more grateful for myself. In fact it became clear that letting go was often easier if I took a walk in that garden saying thank you.
Once again today I walked in the garden. There have been several things that I have let go of today. In my garden of gratitude I said thank you to them. I appreciate what has been in my life, how it has shaped me and understand the loving intent behind it all. Now I can be grateful that I love myself enough to move forward.
Day 507 of my blogging challenge