Practicing Gratitude

babaji-1999It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, but when we’re struggling, it can be hard to access even the possibility of gratitude. At those times it may be hard to see anything to be grateful for. When we see the glass as half-empty, we tend to see only what’s not working. It takes a big shift to see the glass as half-full. The level in the glass remains the same, but which side do we see? How can we change the angle of our minds so we can see that there’s still something in the glass?

How we walk through life matters. If we continue to see only what’s wrong, our view of life is clouded and we become depressed. The weight of this kind of thinking pulls us down and it’s hard to see up.

If a person thinks the burden of the world is on their shoulders, they feel the weight of the world and in a few years they become hunchbacked. Then one day the person sees clearly and realizes the world exists by itself, but it’s too late. The hunchback cannot be straightened.

The mind always goes through different stages, sometimes negative and sometimes positive. The mind is the creator of everything. You create heaven and you create hell. Both are in the mind.

Byron Katie, in her book, “I Need Your Love – Is That True?” questions our assumptions about life. She turn our habits of thinking around.

She asks:

“Do you know what supports your existence right now?” Then she points out that “your neck and shoulders support your head, the bones and muscles of your chest support your breathing. Your chair supports your body. The floor supports your chair. The earth supports the building you live in. Various stars and planets hold the earth in its orbit. Outside your window a man walks down the street with his dog. Can you be sure he isn’t playing a part in your support. He may work every day in a cubicle, filing papers for the power company that makes your lights come on.

Among the people you see on the street, and the countless hands and eyes working behind the scenes, can you be sure that there is anyone who isn’t supporting your existence? The same question applies to the generations of ancestors you preceded you and to the various plants and animals that had something to do with your breakfast. How many unlikely coincidences allow you to be here!”

Our existence is miraculous. Problems arise when we forget how amazing our existence is, and all we can think of is what’s wrong. Byron Katie refers to this as “the thought that kicks you out of heaven.”

I invite you to take a few moments to consider these questions:
What is supporting you right now? In the midst of whatever challenges you’re facing, what is working?
What did someone do today to contribute to your life?
What did you do today to contribute to someone else’s life?
What happened in the past that has helped you in the present?
What did someone do for someone else that touches you deeply?

The world is not a burden. We make it a burden by our desires. When the desires are removed, the world is as light as a feather on an elephant’s back.

contributed by Sharada
all text in italics by Baba Hari Dass


Sharada-headshot

Sharada Filkow, a student of classical ashtanga yoga since the early 70s, is one of the founding members of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, where she has lived for many years, serving as a karma yogi, teacher and mentor.