A reader writes:
I’ve been practicing the morning meditation for a month or two and it really functions great. My days are more aware, my reactions to situations that in the past would make me nervous or stressful—now are surprisingly quite peaceful reactions.
I wanted to ask you about mixing gratitude in with the morning meditation practice.
Attuning to gratitude is a powerful and highly recommended practice.
Yes! Incorporate it into your morning meditation. Attuning to the feeling of gratitude, massages your consciousness—the places that are tight, tense, and constricted begin to loosen, to relax and open to the blessings that are ever-present. Why is gratitude such a powerful practice?
We’re surrounded by beauty.
As we enter into the feeling of gratitude, this becomes apparent. We’re surrounded and embraced by the beauty, bounty, and boundlessness of Life. We’re like fish in the ocean—only we’re immersed in the Ocean of Being, Consciousness, and Bliss.
Every possible—and even unimagined—experience is here within the Ocean of Being.
Love. Health. Success. Wisdom. Everything. It’s all here and available to us. But, it is only available when we open and allow the blessings in.
Life is absolutely gracious and will never intrude.
Life will never force us to have more happiness than we’re willing to enjoy.
Imagine this—the Buddha’s standing at the door of your house knocking and knocking. He’s waiting on the threshold with a gift for you. Being the Buddha, his gift is awakened wisdom.
Nice gift, huh?
But, here’s the rub—he can’t give the gift when the door to your house is closed. And the Buddha won’t practice breaking & entering.
We can open the door…from the inside.
This isn’t just a metaphor for us all to imagine.
The fullness of Life resides at the threshold of our consciousness.
There’s a door between our current level of fulfillment and the unbounded fulfillment available to us within the Ocean of Life. That door is made of thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. They protect you from what we imagine is on the other side of the door. That’s the power of thought.
A single thought can hold back an ocean of blessing—life won’t cross the threshold without our permission.
Life might slip notes under the door.
“I’m here. Please let me in. It will be so much fun!”
Life might wave at you from outside the window.
“See I’m smiling. Open up, my friend.”
Life will send hints and reminders of the possibilities and richness that’s available.
Little moments of beauty: the twinkle in a stranger’s eye, the radiance of the evening sun coloring the clouds.
A child laughing.
These reminders come to because the door isn’t really shut all the way. We’re not closed to Life’s presence. But, we’re not fully open either.
These gentle reminders are encouragements to open further…if we choose.
Yes, the door is always opened from the inside and the degree to which it opens is in our hands.
So, why don’t we open up fully?
A closed door feels safe.
There’s a certain security in living behind a closed door or in cautiously opening it up a crack. There’s a feeling of “being in control” and of managing things “your way.”
But, there’s also an unresolved longing and a gnawing sense of incompleteness.
By protecting ourselves from what we can’t control, we close off from what we most deeply long for.
Opening the door not only opens your inner being, it also, pulls you, in the words of Mary Oliver, “deeper and deeper into the world.”
That’s what our soul wants, that deep dive into life.
It’s what life is for.
While opening brings greater blessings and fulfillment, there’s a tendency in the mind to hold back.
To only let in those experiences, those states of consciousness, that conform to the past.
There’s a tendency for the mind to keep us locked inside four walls of our personal history. So, how can we open the door to that which transcends our personal history?
How can we receive the blessings that stand at the threshold and begin to live more fully and more creatively?
We don’t have to open the door directly.
We can simply attune to gratitude. We can forget about opening the door and making ourselves vulnerable to the unknown. There’s a simpler way: just attune to the feeling of gratitude.
How to start?
Attunement can start with the known.
In your personal history there are experiences, people, animals and events that connect you with the feeling of gratitude. Start with these.
Remember that puppy, that smile, that sunrise—and allow yourself to feel grateful.
Breathe in the image, the sounds, and the energy that is encoded in the memory.
Breathe it into your heart and let the memory of that beauty organically open your heart.
Memories of beauty and blessing incline the mind towards gratitude.
That’s why we begin with the known. Start with what’s already inside the house of your history. Connect with the goodness, the blessings that you’ve known and awaken the feeling of gratitude.
Try it right now . . .
Remember a moment of beauty.
Focus on the memory.
Breathe it in.
Allow the feeling of beauty to arise more and more fully.
And now . . .
Shift the focus of awareness from the memory to the feeling.
Open to the feeling.
Let the contents of the memory fade into the background and reside in the feeling of beauty.
Breathe the beauty in and feel gratitude.
Breathe the beauty out and feel gratitude.
Open, in gratitude, to the beauty that is breathing in the heart of life.
Just breathe the feeling of gratitude.
Without content, without memory . . . allow your attention to become more and more absorbed in the feeling of gratitude.
It only takes a few breaths to open the door.
Secure in the feeling of gratitude, you welcome the fullness of Life.
What happens when you attune to gratitude?
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