Practicing Gratitude Like a 21st Century Spiritual Warrior - (Spiritual Tool #6)
It seems everyone is talking about the power of gratitude these days, doesn’t it? It’s characterized as a game-changer, the “gateway to grace” and the “doorway to the power, wisdom, and creativity of the universe.” I consider it one of the most powerful tools in my spiritual toolbox. Its frequency is right up there with love, the most powerful medicine of all.
But gratitude is so much more than a perfunctory “thank you.” If you’re truly grateful, you’ll notice it’s not so much a verbal expression, but rather an experience of the heart. It’s a felt emotion that originates in the heart, causing it to expand. One of my favorite teachers, Dr. Joe Dispenza, describes it like this:
“When you see someone who authentically feels gratitude, whether they’re feeling grateful for the morning mist, a hot shower, the sun setting over the ocean, or receiving a gift, you can witness them having an energetic experience. Something shifts within them—some veneer, facade, or image they project to the world about themselves drops and in that space an authentic vulnerability appears . . . Instead of going on autopilot, a person experiencing gratitude will pause in the present moment and really feel the expansiveness of the emotion and follow it with a kind word or thought.”
As with any of the spiritual tools I share in this ongoing What’s in Your Spiritual Toolbox? series, to receive their benefits, you’ve got to use them! Here are three ways I currently practice gratitude in my life:
1) Before falling asleep at night, I choose one thing I’m grateful for and identify at least three, (and sometimes ten or more) different reasons for my gratitude. Recently, that one thing was living in my home out in the country, (something this Chicago born city girl is forever grateful for.) Here are some of the reasons for my gratitude: I breathe in fresh air every day. The Big Dipper frames the night sky in my backyard. Call me crazy but I’ve had conversations with praying mantises that grace my yard. On a whim I can step out my door and go for a beautiful walk through prairie, woods, and rolling hills. The country quiet soothes my heart. I know I’m definitely in the gratitude mode when feelings of joy, love, and peace wash over me.
2) Another equally valuable approach, (if not more so) is to connect to gratitude as I move through my day. The more I do, the easier my day flows. For example, I’m grateful I have a car to get to work. When I shop at the local food co-op I’m reminded of the multitude of local organic farmers in our region and feel deep gratitude. I’m grateful we live in a region where turkeys still rule and we have to slow down to give them the right of way. You get it, right? The key is to let this frequency of gratitude infuse your day.
3) Finally, and this is where you can exercise your gratitude muscle like a 21st century spiritual warrior, can you give thanks for something that has not yet materialized as if it already has? Can you literally feel in your heart the joy of living your desire, even before it actually unfolds in your life? Here’s an example: I’m in the final stages of completing the book I’ve been working on for over a year. All of the traditional publishers say I need 20,000 Facebook fans before they’ll even consider publishing it. I have 734, (if you are one of the 734, I am deeply grateful for your support!) Despite these odds, every day in my meditation I take a few minutes and thank the universe for finding just the right publisher for my book. I literally feel gratitude in my heart as I see hundreds, no millions :-) of people purchasing my book, its message going far and wide.
If you’d like to try this approach to gratitude, here’s a simple formula Dr. Dispenza teaches: clear intention + elevated emotion = desired outcome. First, get clear on your intention. What is your desire? Remember, there’s no rule that says you can’t dream big. Then feel as if your desire has already manifested. Feel love and gratitude as if you are already living your desire. Finally, completely let it go, knowing that the Universe may have something even better in store for you!
Of course this is not just a one-shot deal. It all comes back to that “p” word: practice. The key is to live your life day in and day out as if your desire has already manifested. This formula is not limited to personal dreams and desires. We can also use it to create the changes we’d like to see unfold in our communities, the country, and the world.
Why is this simple formula so powerful? Because when we live our lives with our emotions consistently elevated, grateful that our desires have already manifested, we create a “force field” of energy around us that creates the perfect environment for our dreams to come true. As Dispenza says: “Gratitude is the ultimate state of receivership.”
Finally, there’s a simple law of energy that quantum scientists now say governs all of reality: energy follows thought. I find this law to be true in my own life. When I focus on the things I am grateful for, they expand. When I focus on what’s missing in my life, it expands. I always get to choose. In other words, what you appreciate, appreciates!