a meditation on gratitude

Recently, I mentioned having been to a doctor to be ‘hypnotized’ and being put through a series of meditation exercises. Two of the many struck me as worth adding to my regular routine. One was an exercise in ‘gratitude’. The other was an introduction to ‘personal divinity’. Even if you don’t meditate, per sé, you might find them interesting concepts to play with…

 A Meditation on Gratitude

‘Focus, now, on your body,’ the doctor said. ‘Starting with your feet, I want you to think of how they’ve carried you through life. Now focus on your legs and think of how they’ve supported you… and I want you to thank them for it…’

‘Oh yah! My flat feet and fat legs!’ I thought, but as I did as I was told, a rush of images came to mind. How many times had I pushed my body? How often had I asked it to do too much – blistered, battered, and starved it – while it took the abuse and kept functioning despite it? 

‘… Focus on your hands that have served you… allowed you to work… and to hold your children…’

Suddenly, the automatic rejection I’d initially felt crumbled as I came face to face with my own thoughtless ingratitude. In an instant, my habitual negativity evaporated and in it’s place arose an overwhelming appreciation for the miraculous gift of this body.

Okay! My legs were fat and my hands were large… but this was the lap that’d held my children and these were the hands that’d created my art!

‘Yes!’ my mind asserted, ‘and yet you’ll forget that the moment you get out of this chair…!’ and it was true.

Loving and appreciating others is easy, but loving and appreciating myself is not. In the day-to-day rush of life, rarely do take a moment think of how lucky I am to be able to walk, or see, or hear. ‘Which is why you need to remember this,’ I thought. ‘That’s why you need to practice this!’

I’d barely begun to feel the emotions welling in me, though, before the doctor moved on to the next phase of the exercise by asking me to think of a moment when I was happy. ‘Think back to a time… perhaps when you were young… or not… to a time when you were happy and worry free… and be in that moment…’

As soon as I herd ‘be in that moment’ I knew what he wanted of me. My mind flashed to a moment – which one doesn’t matter – in which I’d been wholly and happily in the moment. Worries and concerns of day-to-day life vanished. The moment past forgotten and the moment to come ignored, I was freed to enjoy a different and simpler perspective on what truly mattered in life.

Tears that’d been welling in my eyes trickled down my cheeks as my body was suffused with a deep and pervasive peace. Simple existence meant more to me in the moment than any material thing and life itself was a gift to be treasured and cherished.

‘What difference a ‘mind flip’ makes,’ I thought, as I cast a ‘thank you’ out to the gods or nature or luck that’d given me the chance to experience my life.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the prediction I’d made to come true. Even as I drove home that day, thoughts of the past and future crowded into my mind, accumulating such mass that they almost completely obscured the ‘moments’ and the blessings they carried.

When I thought of the ‘moments’ I’d experienced in the past though or focused on new ones I found myself seeing a little clearer and feeling a little more deeply than usual.

‘If practicing such a simple exercise can cause such an amazing residual affect,’ I thought, ‘what would it be like if I could learn to extend those moments…?’

Of course, that was where ‘meditation’ came in. 

By adding these simple concepts to my daily meditations, I might ‘waste’ a few extra minutes, but in time I might learn to carry the appreciation and gratitude they taught me into my daily life. Seeing things with that simpler perspective could be a life altering and valuable lesson that would make any effort worthwhile.

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