The past few days, in particular, have been alive with talk of gratitude. There has been much intention around being thankful for what one has, with the “what” ranging from health to family and friends, a house, a job, food on the table, and objects that hold significance for us. Of underlying importance is the motivation to appreciate the people or things that otherwise may be taken for granted as we move through our daily lives. The moments of “counting our blessings” are valuable and help to shift our view to the larger picture of what is important for us. However, the caution to be offered is not to be content to stop at this point. There is an even bigger perspective possible.
The question to pose is whether one can also feel gratitude for the events or relationships that are difficult, even devastating. It’s not so easy to have warm, loving feelings when considering these situations, especially when they happen to us or someone we love. Generally what shows up are emotions of anger and rage or the sense of being pommeled with waves of grief and despair. How can one be with these sensations in a loving way? How can one feel thankful? Perhaps this seems beyond what should be asked or expected.
What is involved is not simply moving through anger and blame to be able to get to a place of forgiveness. Such a shift already demands the letting go of one’s hold on intense thoughts and feelings surrounding the event or relationship. How to even imagine getting to the point where one could identify “gratitude” as the sensation that is present? If one could get to that point, how to explain being appreciative in an atmosphere where anger and grief can serve as important additives to fuel vengeful or retaliatory actions and events?
There cannot be one right way to open the door to gratitude for what tears us apart inside. However, tools do exist that can support movement in that direction, toward a letting go of suffering. Isn’t “suffering” the bigger name for what is happening when one is consumed by anger, rage, blame or grief? In the midst of the storm of these emotions, there is also energy which can bring about change in moments of full, present awareness. Being with one’s self in meditation, in movement or stillness, can bring one’s body/mind to a place of mindfulness. In that place, one can make a choice to let go. It may not happen right away; practice is needed. The guidance of a trained practitioner or teacher may be helpful. The next steps involve repeatedly going back to that place to keep the door to gratitude open. A shift can happen from meeting life’s situations with reactivity to meeting them with receptivity. What is truly most amazing about opening to gratitude in this way is that the reward is a taste of what it really means to be free.
To begin, one need only imagine and hold the intention that there is, in fact, a door to be opened…