Feb 8- Gratitude

Meditation: Chopra, Creating Abundance: Living Gratefully
Length: 15 minutes
Where: Home Office/Guest Room, Los Angeles
How It Felt: Uplifting

Day 16 Centering Thought: “Today I remember to be grateful.”

Ahhhhhh, gratitude.

This is one of my favorite topics in the world. I cheese out on this stuff. A grateful heart has been one of the saving graces of my life. It’s kept me positive in the darkest times, laughing in my most trying moments, graceful under fire. I never forget to be grateful for even my tendency to be grateful.

Maybe that sounds like bragging, but I assure you it isn’t. I’m deeply humbled by this practice. I can’t take credit for being this way, and I can’t really trace the habit back to a specific point, either. If I made my best guess, I would say that things were so hard sometimes, I had to find the little nuggets of gold hiding in there, the lessons and silver linings, or I may have been swallowed up whole.

And if there was one thing I refused to do, it was drown in my sorrows. No, thank you. Not for me. My chin was up and my eyes were on the horizon, always.

The lesson today was probably obvious if you know anything about the Law of Attraction. Gratitude for what you have brings more good things to you. Be grateful for love, attract more love. Money, health, peace, connection- whatever it is you want, be grateful for where you already find it in your life. This shines a light on what you want to attract. Like attracts like.

And so on.

For me, while I appreciate watching love or money or friendships grow, my gratitude practice is really more about how it makes me feel. Deepak used a phrase I loved today- “bliss for no reason.” This is exactly how I would describe the feeling I get when I’m especially grateful. Everything could be exactly the same as it was yesterday, but active gratitude lights me up from the inside. It makes me feel blissfully happy, even when not a thing has changed. It’s living proof that happiness depends completely on you, on how you choose to feel, and not on anything external.

I spent a summer in Ecuador a few years ago, and, cliche as it sounds, the experience really changed me. (I know. Bear with me!) We worked specifically with disenfranchised groups, people far out and disconnected from the more “mainstream” parts of society. One of our locations, Quilotoa, was up high in the Andes mountains. Being there was extremely challenging for me, as I’m not a cold weather person, and it was always freezing. Our room had a hole in the window, so it never quite warmed. I slept in layer over layer, buying extra alpaca sweaters and hats from the local shops just to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. For days most of us didn’t shower- taking off our clothes was miserable, and there wasn’t any hot water, anyway.

I was crabby. Tired. I had been going full force, saying yes to every adventure, socializing, talking with my roommates late into the night. I missed my husband. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. I started to resent the lack of autonomy that came with group travel. I wanted to be more like others in our group, who never grew tired, who woke up and took freezing showers undaunted, but I couldn’t get there.

I am a creature of comfort.

We marched miles in the cold to the school where we were working with the kids, and I was still busy feeling sorry for myself. I couldn’t see the beauty all around me. I couldn’t wait to leave. The kids would leave school and immediately go to work in their families’ little shops. The food felt limited. The climate was extreme.

How can people live here, I wondered? They must be so unhappy! They have so little, everything is so hard!

Of course, you can guess the end of this story. The people were happy. They laughed, they held communal meals, they helped each other. On our last day, the kids performed a dance for us, clad in black hats and bright capes. We celebrated and played music together. I still couldn’t shake my blues or homesickness, but I knew I would never forget the lessons I learned.

I learned about judgement, about being happy with much, much less than I had decided I needed. I learned about how easy it is to make ourselves miserable when we only focus on the negative. I was reminded that gratitude is more important when we are challenged, not less.

I also learned to be grateful for electrolyte drinks…. but that’s really a different story….

Every single good thing that happens in life is a gift. Every bite of fruit, every small kindness, every dollar that comes to us, every moment we feel loved, every challenge, every failure, every person- all of it. We have to choose to see that, though, or those gifts will simply pass us by, unappreciated.

I can’t think of one hard time in my life that didn’t make me a better person, or teach me some wisdom I could pass on or use later. I also can’t think of one single day that was miserable despite my feeling active, deep gratitude in that moment. It’s really the difference between my happiness and annoyance. It’s the thing that keeps me vibrating at a high frequency. It’s the key.

Gratitude is love in motion. It’s everything.

I don’t ever mean for this blog to become preachy, but I also can’t help but go on about the things I’m truly passionate about, and this is one of them. I really feel that this new meditation practice is keeping me connected with gratitude, along with its sister, perspective. I have been slower to anger lately. Less likely to sweat the small stuff.

Happier. More peaceful.

For that- I am grateful.

Hard to believe I managed to feel ungrateful in a place like this- Quilotoa, Ecuador
More Quilotoa