Gratitude has been a daily practice in my life and an integral part of my coaching practice. It is virtually impossible for me to feel suffering when I am in the space of gratitude. As we have navigated my son’s recovery from a bad motorcycle accident, I have to remind myself of my blessings and run through my list of things I am grateful for daily in order to keep myself from going deep into negative thoughts or emotions. My list looks something like this: I am grateful he is alive, he is not permanently confined to bed or a wheelchair, this is temporary. I am thankful he is here for me to get angry at. I am not planning his funeral. I can go outside and walk my beautiful chocolate colored pit bull and escape for coffee once in a great while when my husband is home and the schedule allows.
Through gratitude I find peace. It’s almost like a prayer for me but the feeling I get is one of being lifted as if 100 balloons are clipped to my shirt pulling me up out of the darkness. Gratitude is the elixir for suffering. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the negativity or stress of life, especially when the patient isn’t cooperating! I feel powerless when I want to control a swift and positive recovery outcome but the patient won’t wear his arm brace, or do his leg exercises because he is 24 and apparently knows more than the medically trained orthopedic doctors! You can imagine my frustration around this, but the only thing I can do is ride the wave, roll over and go to the place of acceptance, and of course get very intentional about my gratitude practice. I don’t dwell in the shadows, I try to focus on the light. Some days it’s harder than others.
Everything carries a vibration. Every thought, every emotion, and every action we take. My goal is to keep my vibration high as this attracts the people and experiences that resonate with that same bandwidth. If I want positivity and love and unbelievable opportunities to come to me I must be in that same space or frequency to match and receive that. There is a direct echo to what you are sending out into the world and the universe always answers back indiscriminately. There is no discernment between good or bad, there is just a complete and equal response to the frequency you are living your life at. Like attracts like, so if you are around people who are negative or toxic, that energy is going to be drawing more negativity and toxicity to you and those around you. We must be responsible for the energy behind our thoughts and actions, and I encourage you to think about all the people around you that you are impacting through those thoughts and behaviors. I view every personal encounter as a holy encounter. It’s an opportunity for kindness and compassion whether it is a stranger or a friend or relative. I treat every human being with dignity and respect.
As I traveled my spiritual path, I started to notice that I was no longer seeing people based on their external appearance. One day I was driving and it was brutally hot. I was coming home from lunch with some relatives and I had the left overs on my seat. As I approached the stop light at a freeway underpass I could see a homeless man leaning against the pillar. I could feel his suffering as if it was my own. It came at first as a quick thought that this man is suffering, but as I approached, it was almost as if I was him and the depth of his despair and hunger, and misery flooded through me. We didn’t even speak, but as I stopped at the red light, I looked at him and he looked over at me. Our eyes met and I saw his soul. I saw the essence of him and his humanity. The depth of his misery was so overwhelming to me. I was looking around for water or anything I could share with him. He could see that I saw him as a human being and he began to walk towards my car. I had no water, but I handed my lunch out the window to him. It was all I had. No words were exchanged. I was forever changed by that experience because I can no longer look at a person and just see their external appearance. I can see their soul and our connection and the humanity we share.
The empathy I have for others has created a deep compassion for their suffering, and also created compassion for myself and my own suffering. I allow it to rise up in me and I ask myself what I am supposed to learn from this experience. Rather than wallow in it, I acknowledge the fact that I’m upset or angry and I then go back to my practice of gratitude. I take a walk, or remove myself from the situation by going up to my room and I just allow those feelings to rise up and then, I begin making my list of things I’m grateful for. I encourage you to give this a try the next time you are in a space of anxiety, or stress or anger or depression. 21 days straight of practicing gratitude will change you in a way you never thought possible. Just a slight shift will set you on a completely new path and I hope that it is a path from darkness to light.