With Thanksgiving coming up, this is a great time to go deeper into gratitude.
The famous mystic, Meister Eickart once said that “Gratitude is the only prayer you need.” Put even more simply, it could be said that gratitude is all you need.
Gratitude is the simplest, most consistently accessible doorway to the heart. It doesn’t take any complex spiritual concepts or practices to be grateful.
It’s easy to be grateful when things are going the way our mind/ego likes. When I’m hiking on my beloved Mount Shasta on a beautiful day, my heart naturally is bursting with gratitude.
The trick, of course, is to still be grateful when faced with painful emotions or apparently adverse eventsLast June, I was given a powerful opportunity to practice this. I had a bad fall up on the mountain and broke my leg.
I had to dig pretty deep to find gratitude, since my mind was wanting to convince me that this was a terrible setback. I did my best to stay in the present and not think about the long recuperation period that awaited me. The more I found gratitude for NOW, the more I was able to relax and enjoy the opportunity to slow down and rest and receive loving support from my friends.
We always have three basic choices of how to relate to what is, negative, neutral, and positive.
The negative approach (resistance, avoidance, distraction, numbing, etc) is a losing strategy that perpetuates suffering.
The neutral approach, recognizing whatever is happening as temporary or empty phenomenon and just letting it be, can be very freeing. This approach is used in many Buddhist traditions.
Personally, I’m more drawn to the positive approach. I strongly believe that everything comes from one benevolent loving Source (call it God, Spirit, Divine Mother, or whatever you like) and is for our highest good.
When I‘m grateful for NOW, no matter what’s going on, my heart stays open and my peace is not disturbed.