“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
– MELODY BEATTIE
I must confess that Fear still has a way of tricking me into forgetting the Love that I know, I know, I know! I remember on the surface; my mental knowing stays intact. But Fear makes Love feel dry and shallow. The deep, juicy well of Love that enlivens my knowing gets blocked by Fear’s magnetic, hypnotic negativity.
Today, though, the channel is clear again, made possible by the magic wand of gratitude. And it truly is a magic wand! Simply pass it over your head two or three times, incant the words “I am grateful for…” and fill in the blank with those things and people that you are so blessed to have in your life. It may take some effort depending upon the strength of Fear’s hold, but hey, even with a magic wand, some effort is required! Once you begin to feel even one or two hits of gratitude (and it is critical that you feel it, not just say the words), you will have Fear on the run. And then you can literally feel the crust around your heart that you didn’t even know was there, begin to crumble.
So today, for gratitude itself, I want to shout out, “I’m so grateful! I can access the well!”
Perhaps the most universal of spiritual concepts, across all religions, is compassion; yet so few of us practice compassion in its truest sense. From the Latin “cum” and “pati” the words come together, meaning “to suffer with.”
When we are genuinely compassionate toward someone, we become willing to suffer with the person who is suffering. This is a much more demanding action than sympathy or pity. Compassion requires a subjective experience, whereby we commit ourselves to stepping into the skin of the other, seeing through their eyes, feeling what they feel, and walking the proverbial mile in their moccasins. This is hard to do! It requires:
- The conscious decision to override our instincts of self-protection.
- The willingness to temporarily suspend our own point of view for the sake of understanding and caring for the other.
- The live, awkward transition from comfortable and familiar objectivity to uncomfortable, unfamiliar subjectivity and its inherent vulnerability.
- The willingness to feel pain.
I am captivated and humbled by the four steps listed above, that came forward as I began to write. Theoretical compassion and experiential compassion are two different things. Practicing compassion is a life-long unveiling and a subject that is so rich, countless books about it have been written, yet it still boils down to a day-by-day, moment-by-moment, one-on-one commitment to courageously engage in vulnerability and kindness. Even the most committed of us have their blind spots in this regard, perhaps the biggest toward our very own selves. I know I do.
The big spiritual lesson in these current times, I believe, is the recognition of our subjective consciousness and the practice of redirecting negative thinking. Problems in life do us in less frequently than we think. On the other hand, our thoughts about problems do us in all the time. But here is the thing: our thoughts are 100% malleable. We have the power to choose what we think.
I know this is not news to most spiritual students. We all know it. Yet the power of negative thinking is so insidious and pervasive, we need constant reminders to snap us awake.
“You shall be free indeed
when your days are not
without a care nor your nights
without a want and a grief,
but rather when these things
girdle your life and yet
you rise above them
naked and unbound.”
– Kahlil Gibran