“Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.” Rumi 13th century Persian poet
Yogis, meditation practitioners and travelers along the path toward healing of self have likely explored the concept of and practice of gratitude along they way. At this time of year especially much is written about the importance of having or practicing gratitude.
One particularly rewarding aspect of the power of gratitude is in its ability to change how we feel about ourselves almost on a dime, particularly when losses or challenges have obscured the light and joy within. Taking stock of the gifts we have and the positives in our lives can begin to loosen the fist of any momentary grief or despair and transform the experience of that moment toward relief and happiness.
When we are wrapped up in any experience, particularly the more painful ones, the truth of that moment for most of of us how we feel. If we more or less have what we want, are pleased with those in our lives and are clearly moving forward toward our goals. it is pretty easy to be grateful. In these good and happier times occasional setbacks and conflicts can be met with relative aplomb and easily manged. They are can be seen as part of our growth and evolution. Our personality and ego feel quite healthy and and integrated. We would probably call ourselves happy. Quite reasonably, we are rarely moved toward change in these times.
There are times when all this can be turned upside down, often in a heartbeat. Lives can change in the moment through external events or our negative choices. We may find ourselves far down and difficult or destructive paths. Times of painful loss, feeling stuck in unpleasant or destructive circumstances, facing seemingly hopeless challenges are when so much of what we have known and understood no longer seems valid. Many of us have known these times as they are often what moved us to step onto the healing path in which we are involved.
Gratitude in difficult times is a challenge itself as other states of mind can overwhelm us. The feeling of gratitude seems completely inaccessible. For those conscious of practicing gratitude, having any positive feeling toward what and who are in our lives is forced and disingenuous. Moreover, we can pile onto ourselves the additional burden of self judgement for not doing this gratitude thing right. This is a common challenge for the seeker as we can often see the outcome of our path even before we can embody these truths. It is in these moment that deepening our understanding of the practice of gratitude can take us higher and further in our healing.
Through the practice of Yoga, meditation, mindful awareness or other healing wisdom cultivating experiences and a willingness to accept our measure of responsibility for our experience, the way may become clear to know these times as opportunities for which we can be grateful.
First of all, gratitude can be known more as a overall attitude or sate of being more than a momentary emotion. This can keep ourselves on track and mitigate the more painful experiences and emotions we can have under stress.
Adding in the factor of how our experience is the our springboard to change, difficult experiences can be the catalyst to get unstuck when we not have even known we sere stuck. They may ask us to begin to shed old thought and attitudes and the core beliefs of ourselves and what is true in order to see and respond to things anew. Through our own efforts and often amazing helpful incidents and accidents along the way, we may begin to turn things around. Often these moment come unexpectedly and seemingly from nowhere. They are often described as profound moments of Grace.
I believe these moment of grace come as the fruition of the work we have been doing on ourselves all along. In these moments when the gift of grace is received and we come to a new place of freedom and healing. For the seeker this is the reason to grateful for everything that preceded that moment may crystallize in amazing and joyous ways!
The poet Rumi has written about this most eloquently in his poem below:
Written by 13th Century Persian poet, Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.(1)
(1) Poem translation from Christopher Titmuss Dharma Blog-A Buddhist Perspective