NATURAL HEALING: On Gratitude

 If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. – Meister Eckhardt 

As we looked at the Reiki principles the last time, one in particular stood out to me. I have been contemplating it myself; the nature of gratitude. It seems so simple, but believe me when I tell you that it can facilitate some powerful shifts in your consciousness. You will not find any spiritual/motivational leader who does not bear witness to the immense force that is a continuous attitude of thankfulness. So, I want to turn up the volume on the components of gratitude. I will also give you later in this article some tools with which to ‘grasp the nettle’ so to speak and help you connect with your own source of gratitude.

 Just about all of us are aware of what gratitude is usually from a very young age. One of the first phrases we teach our children is ‘thank you’, isn’t it? Have you ever considered why this is so important? For the most part, we’re walking around with an idea of a principle which is universal and timeless, yet we may not tap into the deeper implications of practicing this principle. This is where we encounter gratitude as more than a mere obligation, or even an attitude, but we see its potential as a practice.

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around. – Willie Nelson

Mental health clinicians and positive psychologists agree that gratitude is good for us psychologically. Because we are whole beings, it follows that it is good for our physical health as well. Spiritually, the key component of gratitude can help us to grow by leaps and bounds. Oprah Winfrey has stated that the single most profound practice that she cultivated and that which she believes is responsible for everything she has, is keeping a gratitude journal. Take a moment to consider Oprah’s immense life and, by extension, how powerful this idea is.

How do we practice gratitude? The key is to begin wherever you are. Then, be consistent. Beginning where you are simply means that you indentify whatever you have to be grateful for, and you bring it to the forefront of your consciousness. Your blessings may be plentiful, or they may seem way too small or if you are in a really challenging space, they may not even be apparent. The good news is we all have something to be grateful for, right at this moment, even when we feel deeply unhappy or frustrated. Starting with the most mundane things is good if you find yourself being skeptical. So, right now close your eyes and think about the positive things in your life. Are you immeasurably blessed? Fantastic! Are you working out some kinks, but still in touch with what is working for you? Super. Do you look in the mirror and ask yourself “why me?” Okay, let’s pause for a moment.

Nothing in your life is beyond redemption.- Sting

In negative situations (whatever the nature), it is easy to be consumed.  Saying a few “thank yous” may not change your life instantly. But if you need a lifeline, then close your eyes and take a deep breath. Then take another one. Now, think about what it would feel like to not be able to do this. Picture in your mind what NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATH EFFORTLESSLY would do to you in any moment. Are you willing to at least be grateful that you have the ability to perform this most basic of human functions? Then close your eyes again, and take it from there.   Go through your mental list of the ongoing physiological processes which you take for granted, but if they were interrupted would command all of your attention. It becomes easier to be in the moment, and gratitude is a natural provision from this mindfulness.

Moving forward, feel free to incorporate anything else you may wish. Always be affirmative. For example, instead of being happy that you are not having an asthma attack right now be thankful that you have breath. Be open: little things, big things…they all count. A nice plant in your office is a totally acceptable starting point. Thirdly, you can be grateful towards other people, places and things or just for a particular state that you enjoy (like always having confidence in yourself or being a quick learner). The options are limitless, just like the universe we live in. As you go through this list mentally, on at least a daily basis, it will grow. Maybe it will grow because your perspective will, or maybe because you will create more and more conditions for which to be grateful, or maybe a little of both. But like attracts like and so suspending our worry, fear or anger to acknowledge the smallest of gifts for even a small moment will have an avalanche effect. Give it time. Take time to write your list down if you really want results.

What if you feel that you have been grateful, and it isn’t working? Something which helped me to put things in perspective is the fact that I learned about the way our brains are wired. We are equipped as human beings to take note of and dwell upon, those things which are a potential threat to us. Historically, it has been a matter of survival. Even when we are no longer in harm’s way, our brains will search out and delineate the negative much more readily because our subconscious need is to protect ourselves. The fear which is inherent in the ego then takes over and amplifies the problem, which then absorbs us. The habit of focusing on the negative is one which we can train our brains to let go of, by acknowledging the fact that there are usually many more positive circumstances than our mind is leading us to believe. Gratitude is the result of this shift. Very simply state to yourself: “I am harping on the problem because I am human, and my brain is fulfilling a function. But because this attitude does not serve me well, I can train my mind differently by taking a broader perspective of my circumstances.”

It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment. – Naomi Williams

 Being armed with the knowledge of how our brains work will give us a grasp on the fact that our world is a projection of our mind. The paradigm we have constructed thus far can also be deconstructed. It is absolutely within our power to respond to life in a way that propels us forward, fosters positivity and keeps us deeply in touch with some level of peace, whether we are going through a storm or in a beautiful space. This is not a utopian view of reality. The practical application comes when we make ourselves aware of the number of individuals who have brandished this axiom to overcome great difficulty and to the benefit of many, many others.

I already used the example of Oprah Winfrey, and to this list I want to add the names of distinguished persons such as Dr. Ben Carson, Nelson Mandela, motivational speaker Les Brown, Strategic Interventionist Anthony Robbins, and lesser known men and women who are exceptional examples of gratitude in action. Become familiar with their stories and look around at the people you admire and engage them on the topic of gratitude. You will be handed a few gems, I am sure. Gratitude is the bridge between despair and peace, and if we jump right back on when we fall off, we will avoid becoming stuck in a state of depression, anger or panic. We will turn every calamity into an opportunity. This approach is, in itself, a tool but here are a few tangible practices that you may use to increase your gratitude quotient, as I promised:

 –        Start a gratitude journal of your own. At the end of every day, simply list five things for which you are grateful. As time goes on, review your entries and you will begin to see how you are growing.

–        Another very common recommendation of positive psychologists is to write letters of appreciation to people who have helped or inspired you in anyway. In the letter, let them know what they have done and how it has benefitted you.

–        Something which is fun and a little quirky is developing an “award” system where you mentally give an award to someone (or something) everyday for something which stands out to you. For example, ”best smile” “funniest story” “kindest gesture”…. You don’t have to be limited and the aim is to crack yourself up privately.

–        Share a story of something which you first thought was a disaster but turned out to really be a blessing. You may actually help someone else with this perspective.

–        When you pray or meditate, take three deep breaths and bring your awareness into your heart  chakra area (same location as your heart), picture a green light emanating from your heart. Next allow yourself to be blanketed by this green light as you repeat this affirmation:

“I am thankful for all things, and in all things, as the blessing within everything is made apparent over time and to the extent of my own understanding.”

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy 

Malaika Durand-Kakudji is a Usui Reiki and Sekhem/Seichim Reiki Practitioner living in Brooklyn, NY.  She received her Reiki Master (Level lll) degree in 2008 from The New York Awareness Center in Manhattan and specializes in the area of energy healing for those who have experienced deep disappointment or heartbreak.

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10 Comments

  1. lisa
    September 17, 2012

    This is a powerful article on gratitude; we should always be thankful for everything and in every situation!

  2. September 16, 2012

    King David of ancient Israel wrote a Psalm, which said: “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise, be thankful to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His “Truth” endures to all generation. Psalm 100: 4-5

    There is song that is even more popular than that Psalm above, in that, at least every person who is a Christian knows that song, but very few reads the Bible. The lyrics of that song, which is “Amazing Grace” was written by a man whose name was “Wayne Newton”

    Wayne Newton tells the story of the tough times that he had gone through, and considering how he conquered such difficulties of Life–he had “nothing” and “no one” to give thanks to but that “substance of Grace”–in writing about his experience, he described his deliverer to be the “Amazing Grace”.

    And what is “Grace”? I know it as the many and awesome blessings in Love, which is of God–He gives us those blessings in all sorts of shapes and sizes, for all the reasons of our sanctity, healing, and cleansing, as we grow and mature through the Life He wants us to live–that is the reason Wayne Newton described his blessings of Love as “Amazing Grace”.

    The greatest of Wayne Newton’s measure of grace was “spiritual guidance” as we hear him say “I was lost but now I am found, I was blind but now I see!” Absolutely amazing! It is still the same for us, who will accept the Life of Jesus Christ–otherwise we are damned and we will know this damnation at God’s appointed time; but we cannot blame Him, for we reap what we sow!

    When Pilate told Jesus: “Do You not know that I have power to “crucify” You and power to
    “release” You”? Jesus answered to Pilate, “You could have no power at all against Me, unless it had been given to you from above” Well who is the above that Jesus spoke about?

    My point? This news article is a great piece, once again the writer has written more than half of my Life story using that single theme:
    “Gratitude”

    I see that most of here have embraced the story, that is good, but! Let us be careful! We ought to be grateful and thankful for the privilege to exist in this world–doing what we can do, but the question is: Who are we being grateful and thankful to?

    I know someone who is claiming to be alive and well, because of that person’s abilities of wealth and other aspects–such as education. In that person’s mind it is all about Me, Myself, and I–but O dear, O dear!

    To make it shorter, I will only remind the rest of us, that our gratefulness, thankfulness, honor praise, and merit belongs to our God of Love, who revealed Himself in the Person of Son, Jesus Christ. Let us not forget that we are speaking to Him when we speak the words of thanks and gratitude. Like O God, thanks! That alone will make Him smile to you and He will make your day.

    Just as Jesus said to Pilate: “You could have no power against Me at all, unless it had been given to you from above”. John 19: 11

    So it is for all of us who has chosen to allow our God of Love to have control in us. Our blessings, in what ever form they come are from Him, and so, we give Him alone the “thanks” and the “gratitude”. Jesus teaches us about Himself–when He said: “I can of Myself do nothing!” And yet no one has performed greater wonders that those which Jesus performed when He was here in the physical, He will still do those wonders by the power of Holy Spirit, through His humble servants.

    Later down He told us: It is the Spirit that give Life, the flesh “profits” nothing. The apostle James tells us that the body without the Spirit is dead; and apostle Paul tells us that our walk of Life in this world demands that we walk by faith, in Love, which is of Spirit and Truth.

    • Anonymous
      September 18, 2012

      john Henry newton wrote amazing grace, he was a British sailor involved in the slave trade. born 1725 and later in life by the grace of god fought to abolish slavery. Wayne newton is a native American singer.

      • September 19, 2012

        @Anonymous

        Thank you for the correction, I thought I should have checked first, but it slipped my mind–as Wayne Newton kept ringing the bell in my ears.

  3. Be Nice
    September 15, 2012

    Thank you very much for this piece. Everyone should read this article and practice the art of being thankful.

    Great article Malaika

  4. ROSEAU VALLEY
    September 15, 2012

    This is why I usually thank DNO for allowing us the opportunity to express ourselves via this medium.

    I will print, save and read this article on a daily basis as a reminder of how we should live in peace and harmony with our fellowmen. In the spirit of the article, the author may well have more than redeemed herself after the scathing attacks by some readers last week. The author can count her blessings and I take pleasure in expressing my profound gratitude for her reminder of the power of gratitude.

    As I am the last to be complaining of the length of an article, I shall simply say that this is a cherished piece of information that we know to be around but it is always great to read it as one article as a gentle reminder of the tremendous power of gratitude and thanksgiving.

    Thank you Dr. Malaika Durand-Kakudji
    ROSEAU VALLEY

    Admin: Please note that Mrs. Durand-Kakudji is a professionally trained Reiki Practioner.

    • ROSEAU VALLEY
      September 15, 2012

      Admin: Your comment is well noted.

      However, please note, there are many of us who contribute comments on this website, who are also trained, experienced and qualified professionals in our own disciplines, albeit we prefer to remain anonymous and invoke the protection of a blog name like Roseau Valley.

      In the spirit of gratitude, thank you for posting my comments and for your kind and prompt reaction.. Much appreciated.

    • mornepros
      September 15, 2012

      What is going on with Roseau Valley and DNO Admin? Are they the same or are they deceiving the public just to raise DNO’s ratings? Something is up? Roseau Valley makes great contributions and is always thanking DNO. DNO always commenting on his contribution.
      Hmmmm anorther conspiracy to fool the public.

      Admin: Honestly Mornepros, we have absolutely NO IDEA what you’re talking about but in the interest of free speech, we’re publishing your comment anyway.

      • ROSEAU VALLEY
        September 16, 2012

        How…. I just love DNO.

        ROSEAU VALLEY

  5. Valda
    September 15, 2012

    This is an excellent piece,with which I identify fully. St. Paul also reminds us “to give thanks in all things.

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