Meditating : Being Grateful

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 

Gratitude given & returned

Gratitude

Gratitude

It’s been one of my normal, full on days when the time has flown by. As I moved through the moments one of the things I noticed was the way in which gratitude flowed out and back between people. One of the virtues of being here in human form is to be able to notice how blessed we are. One of my books talks about goodness and the recognition of acts of goodness as being one aspect of Divine bliss. Being grateful, is, I feel, a way to recognise goodness in our lives. Recognising the good, being thankful for the good and acknowledging it to yourself & others is to share a small slice of the Divine bliss.

I have, in the past, found it hard to recognise the goodness and be grateful. I feel that is the case with many of us. We are conditioned to feel lack, compete and live in a fear controlled way. We look for the reasons why we don’t have happiness instead of understanding that happiness is a way of being in the world. We can choose happiness any time we want to step out of the fear. When I began to talk to my Spirit visitors they encouraged me to consider my life in more detail. They wanted me to slow down, pause and be aware of each moment as if it was my last. They asked me to think about my last moment as a human in this lifetime. Would that moment be a happy one? I found that a very hard thing to do. I was so locked into the past mistakes and the future fears that being right here, right now seemed impossible.

With a lot of encouragement I began to leave the past behind me. I realised that there was nothing I could do over. It was what it was. In looking to leave it behind though I had the opportunity to recognise how my past had shaped my present. I began to feel grateful for all the mistakes I had made, the things left undone and the opportunities missed. No matter what the twists and turns, somehow I was still here, having time to be grateful for myself and all of the people who had already been a part of my life. Together we had chosen situations and experiences that had helped me know what misery and happiness meant to me. These good people had also presented me with the choices I now have in my life. Without their willingness to be exactly who they were I wouldn’t know how I can do things differently. Or even perhaps that I have choices.

As I started to work on gratitude about the goodness of my past – even those acts that I put myself through pain for or about –  I became much more concious of the present moment. That I have choices moment to moment about the way I am feeling. I saw a glimmer of happiness emerging from being in the moment. What was holding me back was the fear of the future. Our lives are a brilliant example of running away from the fact that they have to end. We focus instead on the practicalities. Earning a living, paying the bills, escaping on holiday, putting the children through school, college or university. These ‘responsibilities’ drive us forward. We are distracted from recognising the goodness in the moment we are in. Often we reach a stage in life where death is really knocking on the door but we are still wondering did we miss the happiness somewhere along the line? My Guides talked a lot about a life well lived. They wanted me to notice that each moment we have builds up into a long and happy life if we can notice the goodness. If we can be grateful for every extra moment we get.

Taking my lead from these discussions I make an effort to notice gratitude given and received. I am learning the attitude of gratitude. As I see each act of giving and receiving I am also inspired by the positive feeling it creates. For that moment someone feels the goodness or returns the goodness. It may be a thank you, a bunch of perky daffodils, a warm hug, a compliment or donation in a jar. It doesn’t matter what shape or form the gratitude takes. Someone, or me, is saying I appreciate your goodness. You have been kind to me. The connection between us is beyond the simple bond of being humans together. We are sharing an energy inspired by Divine love. There is even gratitude in the rude words, angry conversations, judgemental statements and belittling comments. Each one of these reminds me that I have a choice. I can take myself into the low vibrational energy of shame and blame, accepting what is said as a reflection on me, or I can take these as prompts to rise above the lack of love, of fear and of control.

Happiness is what we create when our lives are lived in loving gratitude. When we practice small acts of goodness towards one another so as to create a wave of positive, overwhelming kindness. When we are kind to ourselves and others we can change our corner of the world. Is it time to change your world? Do you offer and receive goodness, kindness and happiness? Are you grateful for all that you are, all that everyone around you is? Do you share the gratitude? Are you living moment to moment as if it is your last?

Day 152 of my blogging challenge.