Nearly all spiritual traditions and major religions talk about the importance of gratitude.. and although they have done so for – in some cases thousands of years – gratitude as a practice has only more recently become a buzzword in modern society.
Gratitude is two-fold. Firstly it comes as a result of seeing the goodness in our life – having awareness that we have received something. And secondly it is the acknowledgment of the source of that offering. Understanding there is someone or something in which to direct that thankfulness.
Gratitude can come over us in a spontaneous moment, and it’s also a practice that we can cultivate and consciously work with.
From a spiritual perspective, the yogis place great importance on gratitude as both a practice and a virtue. Yogi Bhajan, who introduced Kundalini yoga to the West, said that ‘the attitude of gratitude is the highest way of living’, and that a person who lives in gratitude is ‘absolutely divine’. Spiritual Leader and Bhakti Yogi, Swami Radhanath states ‘Gratitude is a divine virtue so important that practically no other divine virtue could exist without it.
Real, deep gratitude is one of the most incredible feelings on earth. It’s not just about saying thank you with your words – that’s important to note. It’s a feeling in the body, a deeper appreciation for someone or something, which produces longer lasting positivity. It’s a heart-warming sensation of happiness and awe. Sometimes it can just sort of rush over and surprise us, and other times it may come from a conscious acknowledgement of what is serving us in our life.
Now when that feeling is felt, it can then create a counter-reaction of our usual behaviors, which is what Swami Radhanth means when talks about it being a divine virtue that is needed for other virtues to then exist. He goes on to say ‘Spirituality grows like a seed within the field of our hearts. It is gratitude that makes the ground fertile so that all of these other virtues will actually have the maximum effect. This is so, because only a fertile soil allows the seed to have deep roots and grow very strongly.’
The more we practice gratitude consciously, the more likely it will appear spontaneously. And the bonus is, this isn’t a practice that takes long, but it truly has long-lasting effects.
The following are some ideas of ways to create a gratitude practice;
Count your blessings as a daily Practice
Once a day, write a list of three – five things you are grateful for. Be specific when you write, and as you do so, take a moment to really feel the feeling of gratitude for what it is you are thankful for.
Just as we place all of our awareness on a specific chakra to amplify it during the practice; we can use this practice tool for gratitude awareness and cultivation. Take a moment to sit and bring all of your attention on to what it is you are grateful for, feeling the sensation of gratitude. Hold this state for at least 20 seconds before moving onto the next thing on your gratitude list.
Write a thank-you note
Handwrite a thank you note, and give it to someone. Studies have found that people who write thank you notes feel the positive side effects for a full month after doing this. So make this a monthly practice. If you don’t have time write it out and send it, begin by just mentally thanking someone.
Finally, I’d like to say a massive thank you to all of you. I feel so incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to walk this path with you. I feel so blessed to have received these teachings in my lifetime, and it is an absolute honour to explore them with you. Seeing the effort, energy and love you bring to class each week has opened my heart, and brought me to my knees.