How Can We Practice Gratitude Simply?
Gratitude includes mindfulness practice, awareness, meditation and prayer please take some time to see what form of practice is suitable for you.
GRATITUDE Is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not necessarily something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, a-priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life.
Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air.
That the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.
To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks. To see fully, the beauty of a daughter’s face in the mountains, of a son’s outline against the sky, is to be fully grateful without having to seek a God to thank him. To sit among friends and strangers, hearing many voices, strange opinions; to intuit inner lives beneath surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone among all other someone. We intuit a natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness all at once.
Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. We sit at the table as part of every other person’s world while making our own world without will or effort, this is what is extraordinary and gifted. This is the essence of gratefulness, seeing to the heart of privilege. Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets all other presences.
©2014 David Whyte
from ‘GRATITUDE’ From CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying
Gratitude is a very powerful mindfulness practice because it helps us to remember what is truly present. We begin to see the whole picture of reality rather than just a sketch of whatever difficulty or negative mind state may be dominating the attention.
Rather than focusing on what is missing or absent, we see clearly what is present and what we do have, it’s preciousness and value. Gratitude helps in opening our heart and awakens us to pause and appreciate the good things in life. In this way it puts life in perspective.
We see life’s daily, small wonders, the open vast sky, the sound of birds singing, the feeling of the fresh air on our skin, another human being’s tearful pain or their smiling face. It enlivens every moment.
Gratitude reveals itself to us in many ways. At times we feel it in our own face, a softness, tenderness and welling up of emotion. I have experienced it as fullness within in my chest, a sense of abundance and a spilling over of feelings. We often see it in an others eyes.
We may know it best as an experience of thankfulness when we are touched by another being or a part of life. When I have been at retreat and things have been difficult, when I have a momentary understanding of the terror and uncertain journey of the Syrian refugees, when I can accept what seemed unacceptable. And I comprehend all that I have been offered or given.
We wake up and come out of obliviousness and distraction.
We no longer take life for granted.
We feel engaged and more alive.
You can bring a mindful/meditative practice of gratitude into your lives. You can take time to reflect by looking back on your day, what was of benefit or learning? And by looking forward to your day what is my intention for remembering “to count my blessings”?
Gratitude is a way of saying ‘Yes’ to life. This moment is enough as it is, strengthening contentment, and not looking for a better moment.
When we feel this deep form of appreciation it stirs the need within us to give back. When we give we open the door to another powerful Buddhist practice Generosity. At this time of year we can begin to explore the feeling of generosity and all the myriad ways we can share the what we have with others, born our of love for all beings.