Practice Circle on Gratitude2018-05-15T11:33:36+00:00

Practice Circle on Gratitude

“The root of joy is gratefulness…
It is not joy that makes us grateful;
it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

(Brother David Steindl-Rast)

In this step of ISM, we are focussing on our gratitude.  Why?  Simply because gratitude is a necessary foundation for sustainable health, happiness, spiritual fulfillment and contemplative practice.

But realistically, we often start the day with a worried, pessimistic and stressful mind.  On those days when we don’t naturally feel grateful, it will help if we glance at the resources we have found along with our journal entries on gratitude.  These will remind us of life’s wonders and the easy and not-so-easy aspects of our life for which we can be grateful.  Then, we can deepen our gratitude in this step of our meditation.  Our gratitude will lead us naturally into the next ISM steps that follow.

In particular, you might write in your journal about gratitude for a specific individual and the ideals they exemplified.

  1. To whom are you most grateful?
  2. What ideals did they exemplify that you most want to emulate?
  3. Why are these ideals so important to your own human development?
  4. What will you do to embody them yourself?
  5. What will you offer or sacrifice to actualize them?

Please share a summary of your present contemplative insights on this step in the practice circle below. Condense your journal writing (into 2,000 characters or less) and post it in a comment box below. Your personal experiences with this step of the meditation will be gifts to everyone.  Please don’t be shy about sharing.

7 Comments

  1. Ed Bastian April 14, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Please share your meditation on gratitude in the comment boxes below.

  2. awolfe April 30, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    In my meditation I thought about how important gratitude is in my life. It does lead to happiness! By somemiracle I discovered the power of gratitude when I was grieving my twin sister’s death when we were 49. Maybe it was because of her positive attitude, but somehow I did not suffer the torments of poor me, I’ve lost my other half (literally) how can I go on? Instead I was full of gratitude that I HAD a twin for 49 years! And so when I later lost the other person I was supposed to grow old with, my husband Joseph, I drew on that experience and I felt deep gratitude for having a wonderful husband for 35 years, and that feeling continues
    In calling on trust and faith, devotion and prayer, I read also of offering and sacrifice. What can I offer but the precious resources of time and energy as I listen for “the small still voice”? Over 20 years ago I did hear it a few times, through scripture, nature, and a few small miracles, and I felt called to establish a retreat center in New Mexico – a beautiful and powerful place of peace and wholeness. So we moved there, and I sacrificed my old life for a new adventure, much like the lesson I read of Abram as I prayed for direction.
    Now I continue to sacrifice time and energy and the feeling that I can do it my way, though I still struggle with that. I am still looking for transformative insights, as I have known in the past, and I long for more, and I pray “Please lead me and guide me and show me the way.”
    I can’t do it all by myself
    I can’t be all that I am meant to be
    Let there be more instructive scriptures,
    Small miracles, knowing, eagles and the
    Everlasting covenant of love.
    Even so I struggle to find the way, to be the person that I am meant to be – and I pray Merton’s prayer – “and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing – and I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
    For all the lessons, I am grateful
    For this hope, I am grateful

  3. crisgarli@icloud.com May 4, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    I have always felt very grateful for my life. I am one of the lucky ones to have had two, stable, loving parents, three wonderful younger brothers and a sister who is a year and a half younger and with whom I shared a bedroom all my life. The five of us take a week’s vacation every year to spend time together. I have been married for 50 years to a caring, intelligent and loving man and have two terrific children. But every life has had losses and suffering and mine is no different. My husband and I retired from teaching in 2001 and moved to southern California to care for my parents. They both had Alzheimers and we traveled the long journey of caring for them for 11 years. Because of my practice of gratitude I could even see the benefits of this situation. After marrying I never lived in the same community as my parents so I didn’t see them often. I got the chance to give back the love and care that they gave to me. Also I finally had the time to begin meditating each morning, which I just couldn’t seen to do when I was teaching full time. We made many new friends in Camarillo. One was the Methodist minister of my parents’ church. We planned their funeral services together (my mother passed in 2010 and my father in 2012) and they were joyous occasions. When each of my parents turned 80 we had a birthday party for them and each of us read letters of appreciation to them. They got to hear the special remembrances each of us had and we read these letters again at their funerals. We were grateful that they got to hear these words while they were alive. One of my father’s favorite songs was, “Count your blessings, name them one by one” and I have tried to carry on that legacy.

  4. susiej@jetbroadband.com May 6, 2018 at 11:11 am

    I had an experience similar to Cris’s in caring for my aging parents for 8 years, including the last four years before my dad died with Alzheimers. My mom and I attended a support group for dementia caregivers that was sponsored free-of-charge by a local Catholic church. We both made so many friends and learned so many coping skills that really helped to minimize the stress of caring. I remember feeling so grateful to the church for offering this invaluable service for our community! And when my dad was enrolled in hospice for the week before he died, I was again so grateful for the hospice workers who helped us through that. They amazed me with the level of skill and compassion they exhibited, always so present and attentive, to the extent that I thought “I want to be like that.” And I think that was the beginning of my returning to a more spiritual, meditative life that I had started as a young woman, but had gotten detoured from by other life events.

    I also want to say that having been raised a Unitarian, my approach to religion/spirituality had always involved a more intellectual approach to the big questions of life, and traditional “prayer” is not a practice that has ever been a part of my religious training. In the past just hearing the word has always elicited a kind of knee-jerk reaction of “whoa, I’m not into that kind of hocus pocus magic stuff”. But now, after living for several years in a very religious Southern town and having gotten to know many devout Christians that I respect and admire, I have a much different feeling about it, partly because I have developed for myself a more expansive definition of “prayer”. Although my spiritual practice doesn’t include any form of what I would call traditional prayer, when I meditate I consider it a form of prayer because I see it as accessing a spirit within me that is somehow connected to all of life and is both greater and wiser than my “ordinary, everyday self”, if that makes any sense. I like this saying that I’ve heard comes from India (and if memory serves me, was used in “Eat, Pray, Love”: “God, guru, and self are one and the same.”

    Anyway, that being said I like the idea of prayer as being a question, of approaching prayer as a tool for investigation. I feel I’ve always been a good student, seeking out and exploring different ideas and traditions with curiosity and sincerity. But I’ve come to realize that my growth will stagnate as long as I’m just reading and taking notes, so to speak. When I think of “prayer” (or meditation) as a method for contemplating what is most important to me and formulating questions around what I most need to manifest my intentions….well, that puts it in a whole different light. I realize it is a skill I sorely lack and could be of infinite value on my spiritual path. SO….I’m grateful for these lessons that have opened my eyes to something that I feel will be very worthwhile pursuing!

  5. sabrinag12 May 6, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    I did much contemplation and meditation on gratitude this week, particularly gratitude in the face of suffering. I am grateful that as a therapist and teacher I can sometimes help others alleviate their own suffering. I am also grateful for the many lessons that have allowed me a rich and interesting life. I am grateful for the friends I have that we seem to care for each other despite our flaws. I am most grateful for the teachers and mentors I have had and continue to have. I volunteer with Red Cross and do disaster mental health work. I see indigent people in my professional work. I try to show gratitude by caring for people who are not easy to care about. For these things and many more, I have gratitude, and that was the focus of my meditation this week and in many years previous.

  6. nancy.bray@yahoo.com May 6, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    I am grateful and a natural optimistic most of the time. I have learned over the years that my most difficult and painful times are my most treasured. By their circumstance, they forced a soul-searching and a deepening of the understanding of my existence and of who I am and what matters to me. This deepening, this learning is priceless to me. And I learned, painfully, that I am not running the show. I was taught surrender and an intimacy and trust of my higher being, my Lord, My Spirit, My Friend.

    I loved reading about devotion this week. Devotion is something that I have done rather passively. I have preferred to “discover” that I was devoted to my husband, family, career and not have it be something I had to work or effort at. I don’t really like to deliberately work at something. Most things have come easy to me and my enthusiasm for most things in life has been my motivator. This has been true in my career, sports, friendships etc. Truth be told I hate having to work at something.

    So this week I paid particular attention about this concept of devotion relative to my spiritual practice. I could understand, with help from our work on motivation, that I would need to very actively devote myself to my spiritual practice. This is the good news here and although I am very challenged I am very very hopeful.

  7. jhinze May 7, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    I felt gratitude this week when I went to two new new places for me, Salt Lake City and Park City. Having grown up in Southern California, I rarely see snow so when snow started falling that was the size of ping pong balls, I was overjoyed! The snow on the surrounding mountains were so pretty and majestic. I felt gratitude for the street medians filled with bright yellow daffodils. The tulips at Temple square were fresh and looked ready for a happy day full of exciting experiences.

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