Gratitude Practice Ideas

Gratitude generally is paired with pilgrimage and travel.  How can you not be grateful when arriving at a place that you had longed for? Gratitude easily comes when something has just occurred when you are out of your element.  If there is a need, there is appreciation for finding a bathroom, a restaurant, a place to sleep, a spot to sit on the crowded bus, or your delayed flight is finally ready to depart.  But that gratitude doesn’t last.  This blog we will look at gratitude practice ideas 

There are other moments when gratitude arises easily.  Oftentimes, this is when there is a loss.  This could be a loss that directly happens to us, or one we witness.   A layoff, breakup, robbery, fire, natural disaster, disease, or even death.  When what was once in our lives is no longer there, a small tiny feeling of gratitude bubbles in our heart and spreads throughout our bodies. 

Gratitude Practice Ideas

To sustain this, the Buddhists from Bhutan remind themselves five times a day that they are going to die.  Through remembering we are mortal, we can deepen our sweetness and appreciation for the life we have.  For those interested, an app exists called We Croak, that will send a reminder 5 times per day that you will die.  Don’t worry, a positive quote is also paired with that.  But how else can we remind ourselves to be grateful?

The new trend over the years is to engage in a gratitude journal.  Write down everyday 3-10 things you are grateful for.  This is a practice I have done religiously for over 10 years.  It’s part of my spiritual practice.  To keep it fresh, we are encouraged to come up with new things every day to be thankful for.  But one thing I do admit though is we can habituate to it.  It’s just another thing on our to do lists.  

One aspect I heard that was helpful was from author Emma Mumford, she recommends in our gratitude journals that not only do we write what we are grateful for but why.  In this case, we are taking the time to see why this feature is important to us.  This is helpful to bring more awareness into our lives, slow down the process so it’s not so routine.  Check out her discussing gratitude here

The Problem With Gratitude Journals

But what I recognize for me is the problem with gratitude journals is it is in our head.  We think of what makes us happy.  And we don’t always feel it.  Or we believe we feel it, but the sensation is stale.  

What is necessary is to get into is our heart space.  Our heart chakras.  We don’t want to just express love and appreciation, we want to feel it.  We can be it and see it. For some people they may pair gratitude with a loving kindness meditation.  Yet sometimes this still isn’t enough. For me, I need more.  As I write this, I realize it’s almost parallel to someone who drinks often.  Your tolerance builds up, what once impacted you doesn’t impact you in the same way.  Our “gratitude tolerance” has built up.  Therefore, our routine needs to be shaken.  Let me share how to deepen our gratitude.   

Go outside and sit somewhere in your community.  This can be in a park, local square, or a coffee shop by the front door.  Allow yourself to be present.  Start to notice and witness acts of love.  Look at strangers, what do you observe?  How is love and kindness being present right now in front of you? 

Practice Gratitude

This is a new practice for me, and it’s really awakened my heart space in that moment. Over several days, I observed a man feeding birds, expecting nothing in return.  I watched a mother running with her child who was laughing with her, as she chased her.  There was a man walking his dog as he pushed his child in a stroller.  I saw a nurse taking care of an elderly woman so she can sit in the sun.  There was a man who stood out of his motorized stroller and danced with the ocean and the cloudless sky. Love was everywhere, and my heart felt as if it burst open.

None of these acts were grand gestures.  These moments do not just occur in Malaga, but in towns all over the world.  What is required is our presence and openness to witness these loving acts.  This activates the heart chakra.  The thing that feels extra powerful in this is we are watching strangers show love.  Be love.  We don not interfere or think of our own dramas. Somehow this intensifies the sense of gratitude.  There is universality in love.  Carry what you witness as a souvenir.  In your gratitude practice, you can not only think of what you are grateful for, but also feel it. 

Results of Gratitude

Now that you are in a place of pure appreciation, notice what arises in your life.  For me this past week, having an open heart catapulted my life.  From that moment my heart was broken open, all these unexpected pleasant surprises began arriving.  It was the law of attraction in action.  Although I believe in manifestation, it was the last piece of having an open heart and living in space of pure gratitude that I began to receive more.  With each day, I allowed myself to reside in that space.  After witnessing this shift in my life, I recognize the importance of acting purely from one’s open heart and not solely the head. 

How did these gratitude practice ideas land with you? After the excitement dies down from your pilgrimage, try this as a way to keep the gratitude active in your heart.  Notice what arises and live from that space.

To find out more about what you need for pilgrimage, read this

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