I don’t know about you, but I’m a “list person.” Chalk it up to the Virgo in me, I do love making lists and also checking them off. I’m sure it gives me a sense of completion and “control” and honestly, it clears my ever churning brain from all my “to do’s” and creative ideas. So, when my wonderful teacher, Ashley Neese suggested I start a daily “Gratitude” practice, listing off all that I was grateful for, I was on it!
Now, we hear about “gratitude lists” left and right, so, until I began the practice, I thought the magnitude of change and positivity it was built up to bring was somewhat bullshit. I put it off for a while and finally, after such desperation to shift the constant negative ticker tape rolling round in my head, I sat down with my journal and gave it a try.
Blank. Nada. Tried again.
That’s what came to me. I was somewhat paralyzed, and what did come to my head, felt fake. I took several deep breaths and began connecting with my heart and body. When we write a gratitude list without enlisting the body and heart we only intellectualize the gratefulness and don’t fully receive it, mind, body and soul.
As I began to tap into my full being, of course the first thing that popped up was my husband. Hey, that felt authentic. Then, warm clothes (it was January), Eddie’s childlike excitement of being in the desert with the kids and me, all of us together, playing in the snow. There was my gratitude for my meditation practice, my connection with spirit, my stepson’s kindness and even the recognition of some ancient pain that my awareness had yet to expand to include, until now. Whew, that wasn’t so difficult once I started the ball rolling.
I was astounded at the shift of energy within me as I went on about my day. I began to think, “Hey, maybe this gratitude list thing really works,” so I continued with it daily. I made it a part of my evening ritual. Before heading to bed, I scan back over my day and write down all the goodness.
It’s incredible how my mind use to, and still does sometimes latch on to everything negative about my day. I hang on tightly to my mistakes, my insecurities, my disappointments, like a kid hanging onto their favorite security blanket. We have all been so trained to focus on the negative that focusing on anything but seems venerable, unsafe and unreal. Though, writing an evening gratitude list has helped me to refocus and begin to retrain my brain to look for the good in everyone and everything. I don’t get lost in the darkness as often anymore and drift off to sleep in a peaceful, loving state. A few other ways I cultivate gratitude throughout the day are by saying a prayer of thanks in the morning, first thing when I wake up, to get the gratitude juices flowing. I also use the list writing practice during the day if I’m needing to shift my energy. It’s so easy to get caught up in our daily craziness and end up spinning out of control by midday, especially if it feels like everything has gone wrong since our feet hit the floor. Gratitude, I have learned is a one of our greatest life changing, energy shifters! It’s a direct line to the divine.
Do you have a gratitude practice? If not, are you willing to try writing your first list and see how it feels for you? Can you find gratitude in even your most difficult relationships and experiences?