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The Power of Gratitude and Joy

by Sue Staropoli, November 2021

“Experiencing gratitude is one of the most effective ways of getting in touch with your soul. When you’re in touch with your soul, you eavesdrop on the thoughts of the universe. You feel connected to everything in creation. You embrace the wisdom of uncertainty and you sense yourself as a field of infinite possibilities.”

As I watch the news these days and see the reality of the world around me, it is easy to fall into heartache, paralysis, powerlessness, and despair. What’s especially heart-breaking is to witness how people relate to each other, other species, and the earth itself.

What I have found is that, in order to move through this overwhelming sense of challenge and pain, it’s necessary to ground myself in a totally different emotional experience.

But how does a person do that - change their state of being?

If you are willing, I invite you to engage in a brief practice that I’ve been using to reconnect with my own soul and feelings of gratitude and joy.

Close your eyes … Take in a deep breath, letting it fill your abdomen. Hold your breath just enough to feel the fullness … and then release it, with a long, slow exhale through your mouth.

Repeat this pattern of deep breathing through several cycles, observing the way your body is responding, letting go of tension in your muscles, joints, and tissues.

Recall an ordinary moment, or an activity you enjoyed recently, a moment of joy or spontaneous awe or gratitude. It might be a special moment with a friend or family member; seeing a hawk or a deer or a sunset; some unexpected delight; or something you just loved doing or experiencing for any reason.

Through several slow breath cycles, relive the experience again in your sensory memory.

Now reflect on what you just experienced. What happened to you when you remembered a special moment of joy? How would you describe it?

Perhaps there was a fresh sense of life stirring in you. Perhaps something positive that affected how you were feeling and shifted your perspective. That, that something positive, is the spirit – that which stirs within – reminding you that life is basically good, even amid challenge and pain, and that you are part of something greater.

Moments of wonder and awe connect you with a greater reality and transform the state of your heart. Those experiences enlarge your awareness. They bring the humility of knowing that you cannot control life, but you can receive life’s gifts and appreciate them. And you can contribute your unique presence for the well-being of all life.

What I’m understanding is that the more I notice these moments of joy, the more I see how they serve as connecting points to my spirit, the more alive I become, and the more I can let my spirit make a difference in the world.

Even though I often feel the burden of grief or anger about what is happening around me, I am coming to realize that living life fully involves holding both beauty and pain. The experience of gratitude and joy reminds me that I need it to stay connected to my spirit and to something greater than myself. Joy shows me why I need a community of mutual support, as we work together to be agents of change.

Joy is experienced only in the moment, not the past or future. Truthfully, this present moment is all we have, where we are truly alive.

Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves you from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When you’re appreciating something, your ego moves out of the way. You can’t have your attention on ego and gratitude at the same time.

Just for a few moments, consider the things you have in your life that you could be grateful for: all the nurturing relationships, the material comforts, your body, and the mind that allows you to really understand yourself and everything around you. Just breathe and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible. Simply feel your body and your aliveness, and acknowledge what a miracle it is just to be alive right now. Allow your awareness to appreciate what you are seeing, smelling, and touching just at this moment and you will find yourself in the middle of the stream of life without trying at all.

Feel the love, compassion, and understanding that gratitude brings into your heart. Notice how gratitude brings your attention into the present time, which is the moment in which miracles can unfold. The deeper your appreciation, the more you see with the eyes of the soul and the more your life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.



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