Gratitude is Liberating

Gratitude is liberating. It is subversive.
It helps us to realize that we are sufficient,
And that realization frees us.
— Joanna Macy

The simplest connection to the divine is to SEE it. The koans often say, “Look, Look!!” Do we see the mystery in our life? Can we notice moments of beauty, love and inter-connectedness?

When we see life’s freshness in each moment, very naturally, gratitude arises. Gratitude for our one precious human life. Even though the course of a single day may bring innumerable blessings to us, the few moments of genuine gratitude we experience are often overshadowed by our complaints, disappointments, sorrow and frustrations. Sometimes we have to interrupt all our attachment, cravings and manipulations to see life’s beauty, but nevertheless, we can see: This moment is complete. This moment is whole. Life is precious. And as Joanna Macy said, “This realization frees us.” Gratitude requires attention and reflection or we miss it.

A very simple practice is just to write or think of our gratitude list. Actually writing down every day 10 things we are grateful for, can have a remarkable effect on our attitude. Before you close your eyes at night, you can just review your list of grateful things.

Sometimes just looking at “half-full” instead of “half-empty” is a practice.

If we have more energy for this type of practice, we can use techniques of Naikan which means “looking inside” or more poetically, “seeing oneself with the mind’s eye”. Greg Krech, an American Naikan teacher, came to Clouds in Water a number of times to teach us how to use the 3 basic questions:

  • What have I received today?
  • What have I given?
  • What troubles and difficulties have I caused?

Our internal reflection of gratitude can also transform into an expression of gratitude in the form of words, thank-you notes, services, or gifts. Can this holiday season be one of small expressions of gratitude; thanking people, giving of time and effort to others, a smile, a compliment.

Leave a trail of appreciation behind you.