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“Normally we want praise and dislike criticism, but, seen with a clear mind, we see them as equally empty.
Thus we can let go of all these things and find peace.” ~ Ajahn Chah
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Gratitude is Key

By Paul Dallaghan

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I recently watched the movie, Pursuit of Happyness. I was reminded of some earlier experiences in my life, where I was literally brought to my knees, and it was in this low that the greatest lesson came to me, to be fully grateful. The song does say “the things we most need to learn are the things we rarely choose”. How true. So life puts us into situations. For the only way to truly learn is through direct experience. Since then I open my day and practices with an offering of thanks, gratitude. Everyday.

I cannot overemphasise this point. Gratitude is the seed for compassion and humility. To say thanks or repeat it in your head will cut little ground. It must be felt. It must become part of your make-up. Part of your vibration. That is why so often we have to learn this through situations where it is directly experienced and goes right through us, becomes part of us.

When you genuinely feel thanks it means you have fully looked at your life and all you have. You appreciate everything. You acknowledge that. Just to have this day, to wake up with our health and what we have to do is a gift in itself. What right have we to go outside with a gloomy face, exporting our self-inflicted issues on everyone else. Cleanse yourself immediately of this woe, of this stagnant energy, through genuine heartfelt thanks of all that is in your life. How can we not but feel light and happy. Our heart can’t be free until we feel this. This is the source for inspiration to come.

We often imagine what makes us happy and based on that we are grateful and smile. Yet the lessons learned are usually hard and put us to the test. Herein is the greatest learning. This comes up fully in the yoga practices. Through the difficulty we must engage ourself, we thus learn, we grow, we gain appreciation. And when looked at with open eyes how can we not but feel thanks for something that has raised us up and helped us grow.

Do we see the thorns or the flowers? Is the glass half empty or half full? How we look at everything in life is indicative of what is going on in our system, energetically speaking. Try to observe your response and actions to all situations in your life. How negative or not are they? You can cultivate positivity right at the start of your day. The beginning of any activity is crucial and thus this day even more so. Genuinely feel it, make time for it, sit and offer thanks. Already energetically the positive current starts to flow and affects the rest of your day.

If we have really acknowledged all we have and feel genuine appreciation we are directly in a position to feel the plight of others. In other words compassion will more naturally flow from us. To put yourself in another’s shoes, to do unto others as you would want done to yourself is a key principle of life and inherent in all yoga. From a real place of gratitude your heart is opening to feel others, offer love to others and to help others. What more is there to life?

Nothing can grow unless there is a base of humility existing within an individual. You don’t cultivate humility by trying to be humble. Rather you forget yourself, you do what has to be done. Your desires come later. Often a humbling situation forces it upon us where internally we offer thanks. Let that continue through your life. A genuine offering of thanks must come from a humble place and as a result will help cultivate humility.

The latest James Bond film bizarrely offered some sage advice, so much so I had to write it down – “never does arrogance go hand in had with being careful”. Of course it came out of the mouth of M. Awareness, the key to all personal development, cannot grow without humility. This is based on a foundation of gratitude. Take it on in your life.

Simply put, gratitude for all is a great purifier. Without gratitude how can one be ready to receive. And inspiration is something that comes to us, we open up and receive it. We don’t develop it from our intelligence or skillset. We step aside, ego takes a back seat. And for this to happen you have to step away from yourself. Start by being thankful, grow compassion and humility. Your system is ready then to receive those moments of inspiration. Such gifts come to those truly thankful at all moments in life. Everyone is thankful for a big gift but what about each moment? This is where it begins and in time the fruits of inspiration and so on come to the aspirant.

You have to make a concerted effort to put it in your life. You can see the wisdom in this now or wait for a hard knock situation in life to teach. Either way it is a universal principle that can’t be avoided. The great study on water crystals by Masaru Emoto revealed for him the importance of gratitude. The crystal formed from the words ‘love and gratitude’ was the most perfect, with gratitude being the larger part (two-thirds). The world and us are predominantly water based. The physical evidence emphatically states this simple message, that gratitude has the power to change us and the world. Why would we not want that?

When I really acknowledge what is happening in my life it appears to tell me that it is not my doing and I am very appreciative of what is coming to me. The misunderstanding of this has led to so many problems in the world today. We sue others, even kill others, for what is “our’s”. We detach from the humble base by believing we are doing all of this. Sooner or later life teaches its lessons. Why wait? The answer is through gratitude. To fully look at all in this life now, whether you understand it or not, and simply come out grateful.

Start each day with this practice. After rising and cleansing take time to sit still for a few minutes. Steady yourself and your breath. Then, as if there is nothing else so important in the world than this conversation at this moment now, start to offer thanks from your heart. Acknowledge all that you have, feel genuine appreciation. Offer thanks. A few minutes of this at the start of everyday will profoundly change your life. Then let it continue throughout the day. When you eat, when you arrive at work, when you get home, when something happens. Just notice that inner dialogue. But feel it. Do not broadcast it. It is a private intimate detail. The power lies in the personal nature of it. Though I spend many hours every morning in yoga and meditative practices without this key of gratitude I know for certain my life would not be what it is today.

Thank you.

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