As I began to ponder the content of the November RADICAL EXPRESSION, the obvious choice of Gratitude was front and center in my field of my awareness. I have received in my own inbox several beautifully written missives on the virtues of practicing a grateful attitude, sentiments with which I most deeply concur. I have for many years kept a daily gratitude journal, and I suspect it is a practice that I will continue as long as I am able to hold a pen. I was also reflecting this morning on a perhaps less obvious contribution on the subject of thankfulness; the benefits derived when we realize and acknowledge that we are not feeling grateful. There are rare times when I am simply not feeling grateful at all.
My own individual spiritual emergence has radically changed in many ways during the past several years, changes for which I do feel a deep sense of gratitude. One of the changes that have made the most impact in a practical way is the deep felt-sense acceptance of whatever is arising in the field of my awareness and experience at any given time. My belief has become a knowing that when accepted and embraced, everything is used in service of our spiritual evolution. Every dark and uncomfortable emotion, so long my major nemesis, is merely a miracle in unfolding. Every challenge brings gift, and every obstacle a way through. There was a time when if I did not feel grateful during my morning thanksgiving ritual I would feel guilt and self-incrimination. I would then shove those feelings aside as I tried to force a thankful feeling from a place that was clearly momentarily closed. What I have discovered is that if I court the occasional feeling of ingratitude, and bring a witnessing and compassionate presence to it, it will reveal to me some wound that has not been attended to properly and lovingly. If I give space to the un-thankfulness, it will reveal to me something that invariably will lead me to a grateful realization. Rather than trying and straining to feel grateful from a space of ego-driven obligation, I am now in an inner-place spaciousness enough to trust in the natural clarity that acceptance always brings. This practice has also solidified the knowing that true and authentic gratitude isn’t dependent on outer circumstances. It is a way of being that in our humanness can be variable. There is no shame in that. Sometimes humans just don’t feel grateful. It is usually the result of a mental interpretation, yet that is a part of our experience here. We can try and manipulate the mind into thinking grateful thoughts. Or we may wisely choose wait a bit, go a bit deeper, and find the gold in why we are feeling the way we are feeling at any given time. Sometimes the most profound experiences of thanksgiving come from a place that was originally steeped in ingratitude. It takes some fortitude to go the distance, yet it is well worth it. In the process, wounds get exposed and hearts become healed. That is certainly a call for gratitude.
So in this month of gratitude and thanksgiving, perhaps you will take another look at times when those are not the authentic inner experiences that you are having. Take a curious look at those places within; a soft, compassionate look. See what hurt may be just below the surface, or what old programming may be behind the interpretation that is leading to dissatisfaction. Find the gift in the ingratitude, and you will feel doubly grateful. After all, it truly is all for good. Good isn’t the absence of bad. It is the inclusion of all. An open and embracing heart is a grateful heart. And that is what thanksgiving is all about.
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