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November 24, 2019
Every year around harvest time, I think about gratitude more often. I see the produce at the market think about how much I have, and how bountiful nature is. It’s very easy for me to intellectually know that, but for me, in both my healing and magical practices, a concept isn’t fully real to me until I feel it in my body, and I can interact with it in the physical world. So I wanted to share some of the ways I work with gratitude to feel it in my body, and bring it into the world.
First, let’s talk about gratitude. I had been taught the uplifting effects of a morning gratitude practice by one of my meditation teachers years ago. This is a simple practice, where each morning you write down five specific things that you are grateful for. It gives you a boost right there in the moment, and keeps you feeling happier throughout the day. Gratitude practices have even been shown in studies to improve sleep, mood, fatigue, inflammation, and cardiac function.
I did this for a while, writing down five gratitude items each morning, and it was pretty interesting. I definitely felt happier when I did it. But it was hard to keep the practice going. It felt like a chore, like something I did because I knew it was supposed to be beneficial, not because I really connected with it.
My gratitude practice was mind-only, and so it started skewing into abstract territory. Where I could either go too big or too small with how I felt. Once I got started, sometimes I felt like I could think of a thousand things that I’m so grateful for, and I didn’t want to leave anything out.
Sometimes I felt begrudging like, ugh I guess I’m grateful I woke up today but I don't really feel it. Some of the disconnect between gratitude and me definitely comes from my past. In the culture I grew up in, (middle class American white protestant), kids were told to be grateful in the same tone they were told to sit down and shut up. “Be grateful,” meant “be subservient.” Know your place, which is less-than. Being told to be grateful like that was a way of putting someone down. “You should be grateful you have any job/money/home/friends/food at all!” Like you owe the world or other people some repayment or debasement, or obedience in exchange. It took me a while to learn, but they were using the wrong word. That’s not gratitude.
True gratitude isn’t about exchange, or a power imbalance. It’s about love, pleasure, and appreciation. Gratitude occurs in relationships of mutual respect, for gifts freely given. Whatever you experience in life that feels truly good, was given to you freely, out of love and respect. Even in the cases where it’s something you did for yourself.
Autumnal vegetables at harvest. Recognizing the abundance of life giving food we have is one way we can show gratitude this season, and always.
Another important experience I have with gratitude is from my intention-setting work. When setting an intention, or doing manifestation work, it’s important to feel gratitude for the good things on the way to you. If you’re manifesting a new job, more self-love, or a hot date, holding a grateful feeling helps it to come to you with ease and grace. Gratitude opens your heart to receive. You’re not trying to force anything to happen, and you’re not begging the universe. You’re ready, willing, and grateful, because that manifestation is already here. Connecting to those feelings, and really embodying them, was a powerful moment that showed me the link between manifestation, meditation, and basic everyday life.
The best way to feel gratitude is taking pleasure in what you’ve received.
The best way to show gratitude is to take action, through your body, and in the world.
The best time to show gratitude is every day, it many little ways.
First you feel gratitude in your body, and you use your body to express how you feel.
What I’ve developed is a practice of grounding my gratitude, so that I can really feel it in my body, and in the way I interact with the word. Agan and again, my experience as a healer and witch leads me back to the body, to the present, to the mundane, as the most important place to practice spiritual concepts.
When gratitude takes root in your body, it’s easier to hold it in your mind, which influences your actions. And the magic of gratitude ripples outward from there.
This involves some body exercises as well as some really concrete ways to act on gratitude.
If you feel something, and you put action toward it, you are actually putting more of that feeling into the world. The universe is like a fishbowl that everyone swims in. I personally would love to have some more gratitude dumped into our water, rather than almost any other feeling.
Sounds good? Ready to try it out? Here’s how to take gratitude deeper than the mind.
Grounded Gratitude Practice Steps:
Then reflect, or journal again. How does this practice inform your original feeling of gratitude? Does it feel different, when you bring it into your body, and into action? This practice is something you can do once a week, or every day. You can choose the same gratitude item over and over, or switch to a new one every time. Do whatever feels best for you. And see how your life begins to change, as you connect to the power of gratitude.
Here’s an example of my own gratitude practice:
Ways You Can Practice Gratitude
Gratitude for people:
Gratitude for a pet:
Gratitude for money:
Gratitude for food:
Gratitude for health:
Gratitude for home:
Gratitude for earth:
Moriah Simmons has her BA in English Literature, is a certified Reiki Master Teacher, Life Coach through Institute for Integrative Hypnosis, and Akashic Records Practitioner, and she loves listening to plant biorhythms translated into music!
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