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PROACTIVE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

By Emily Agnew
November 06, 2009



Are you having trouble connecting with spirit? Or can you connect, but want that connection to be more seamless and continuous? Emily clarifies the powerful role of gratitude in your spiritual connection, and offers two practices to support you in moving into gratitude.



Once you have decided that living a spirit-connected life is your highest priority, you begin to organize what you think, what you say, and what you do, in order to live that priority.  You become less reactive, and more proactive. Being proactive means you accept that you are 100% responsible for the state of your spiritual life and connection. As you begin to perceive the central role of gratitude in a spirit-focused life, your desire to nurture gratitude in yourself will increase.

Why is gratitude central to a close spiritual connection?  One answer is, that the realm of spirit exists at a high level of vibration, and a state of gratitude matches this vibration, allowing you to “tune in” to the frequency of spirit. It can be helpful to think this way, but it is not the whole truth.

In truth, gratitude IS spirit. Spirit is the energy of divine love, and gratitude is one form of that love.  It is like light. Light is energy, and that energy can be transformed into matter, as when a plant grows by photosynthesis. In our lives, love is the energy, and the “plant” is the manifestation in the world of the visions that flow through us when we are connected to that energy.  We are photosynthesizers of the divine energy of love and gratitude. These are the energies we need to create whatever we want to create, in the world.

How do you tap into this divine energy? Sometimes, events occur that stimulate gratitude in you, even if you are not consciously cultivating gratitude. If a friend brought you a big bouquet of flowers cut from her garden, feeling gratitude would probably not require choice or effort on your part. But many events in life can be interpreted as a slap on the wrist, a punishment, or even a disaster. Because so many life events are subject to a negative interpretation, you cannot depend on gratitude being passively stimulated in you all day. You must have a proactive approach in place to maintain a state of gratitude.

The catch phrase, “cultivate an attitude of gratitude”, is a perfectly accurate description of this proactive approach. You must cultivate gratitude. This means choosing to look at a situation with a focus on what you could possibly be grateful for about it, and patiently attending to the task of nurturing this attitude in yourself, Like a gardener who chooses his seeds and patiently waters and weeds his garden, you cultivate and nurture in yourself a habit of looking for ways to be grateful.

When we are grateful, we are thankful. But living in a state of gratitude has much more profound meaning than just thankfulness. Gratitude is a sign that we are in a state of complete acceptance of “what is”.  Unconditional acceptance of  “what is” is the only way to open fully to spirit. The free flow of divine through us is exactly in proportion to our degree of surrender.

Once you see the importance of cultivating gratitude in your daily life, how can you go about actually doing it?  Here are two practices I find very helpful:

1. Take ten minutes, either upon awakening or before bed, to write down anything you can think of for which you feel grateful.
•    Include everything you can think of. Nothing is too small or too obvious:
“I’m grateful for my comfy chair.”
“I’m grateful I have a healthy child.”
•    Try to add why you feel this way:
”I’m grateful to Joan for calling me today to ask how my mother’s surgery went…because it really met my need for caring and support.”
2. If you are too angry or upset to feel grateful, or notice you feel resistance to it, try expressing conditional gratitude:
•    Think of the most basic aspects of your life at the moment: food, shelter, heat or air conditioning, a place to sleep, a safe place to live.
•    Choose one of these elements, and write a statement, using this formula:
“I’m grateful that I at least have a roof over my head, even though I’m so mad at my husband, I could spit!”
“I’m grateful that at least I had my favorite cereal for breakfast, even though [here, insert more stuff you are NOT happy about]…” and so on.  
•    Whatever you come up with, try to really connect, in your body, to the little bit of gratitude stimulated by your statement.
This practice is invaluable when you are upset and have enough self-awareness to realize that you don’t even want to open to spirit. To put it another way, you have no loving adult present.  Writing a string of statements like the examples above is a way to sneak past the resistance of your wounded self. When we are in pain, our biggest challenge can be to find a way to want to connect with spirit.  Part of you may want to hang on to non-acceptance, in the form of resentment, rage, or judgment. When you create the above statements, you are moving to acceptance, however conditional it may be. This creates loving adult presence in you.  

Besides helping you get past your resistance, expressing conditional gratitude gives the upset part of you plenty of airspace to express what is bugging him or her. To put it another way, it will become very clear to you where in your life you are not accepting “what is”. This is a very effective way to start a dialogue with your wounded self. You can find out what you are telling yourself that is causing the upset, and move into the Inner Bonding process to examine the truth of the beliefs underlying the upset.

A daily effort at gratitude is a key part of a proactive approach to spiritual connection. In any given moment, your ability to accept “what is”, and to express gratitude for it, is a perfect indicator of your openness to spiritual connection. If you are already feeling loving, cheerful, and grateful, great!  You are connected to spirit…now you can do your best to live the guidance you are receiving. But if I’m feeling cranky, resistant, depressed, or resentful, then my efforts to express conditional gratitude will immediately reveal what is blocking me from a full, unhampered expression of gratitude.

As you move towards being more and more proactive about staying connected to spirit, you’ll find these practices cut right to the heart of the matter.  There’s nothing more important than staying connected to the flow of the divine. You can use these practices to take responsibility for the free flow through you of this energy, in the form of gratitude.


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