20 - Give it Away! Three Secrets to Deepening Your Gratitude Practice

Season 2 E8 - Give It Away 3 Spiritual Secrets to Deepening your Gratitude Practice You Must Know - Path of Presence

I want to talk today about giving it all away - and giving it freely.

It is Thanksgiving this week in these United States after all, and everyone, at least on the surface, is giving thanks for something in their own way. 

I think it’s wonderful!! We need to be giving thanks. Giving thanks is a practice and a value most of us have been brought up with. 

Gratitude is a spiritual practice. There is a three-step process of giving thanks that completes a spiritual cycle. 

Practicing these three steps deepens our foundation for greater appreciation, and helps us mature to a level of consciousness where we are primed to receive the good that awaits us.

The three steps of practicing gratitude are the following:

Step 1: Expression: Give whole-hearted thanks. 

Step 2: Embodiment: Feel it. Not to know it, but to get it into our body

Step 3: Exhale: Release gratitude.

 

DEEPENING GRATITUDE Step 1

1. Expression: Give whole-hearted thanks. 

From a very early age, I was taught to count my blessings. Is that the value you were raised with also?

I have seen so many amazing people who have wonderful personal spiritual practices to focus thanks. Three examples of counting blessings are the following:

GRATITUDE LIST

Many keep a gratitude list over a course of a period of time (like 30 days, or 90 days, or if you want to totally and radically change your life, consider giving thanks, for one thing, each day, for 365 days, over the next year). 

GRATITUDE JOURNAL

They keep a daily gratitude journal, documenting when and where Thanksgiving was practiced.

MEDITATIONS AND PRAYERS

In quiet time, many give thanks for the blessings they have received. It is a tradition on Thanksgiving holidays to go around the room and share why we are grateful for.

Having identified what we are grateful for, either through a list or otherwise, is a wonderful 1st step. However, we are not done. Most people believe that simply naming their blessings is sufficient. Counting our blessings primes us for step number 2.

DEEPENING GRATITUDE Step 2

2. Embody: Feel it. 

To activate a true gratitude practice, we must receive the blessing of thanks by experiencing gratefulness. Having a felt sense of gratitude is a really important process because if we simply say it, and not whole-heartedly feel it, we are missing the point. 

The purpose of giving thanks is not entirely about telling others "thank you." The expression of giving thanks is a wonderful first step because cognitively, we realize we are blessed. 

The deeper practice is to feel it - to emote gratefulness. In processing. Thanks through it emotional bodies, we change our energy. Over time, when we feel grateful, despite our circumstances of situation or challenging condition that we find ourselves in, our hearts begin to soften. It softens to bloom and blossom - like a flower!

I am a visual person, so I see gratitude as a condition, like the weather. When the conditions are optimal, trees come or of dormancy - flowers bud, bear fruit.

The felt sense of gratefulness is the condition that makes our hearts open. When we live life with an open heart, we have a very different experience than when we go about living with a heartened and closed heart, don’t we?

This is the gift that gratitude brings: an opportunity to radically and significantly improve our experience of life itself.

The 3rd step in practicing gratitude is a humdinger. Even though you've worked hard to identify what you are grateful for, and have taken precious time to feel it, Step 3 is the exhale and release it. 

DEEPENING GRATITUDE Step 3

3. Exhale: Release gratitude.

To exhale and release the gratitude that we have cultivated in our hearts is the secret sauce to positive change. We need to give it away, drop it like it’s hot. Like skydiving, we’ve got to take the plunge and jump! 

Giving it away? After all that time of working with it in meditation, on your list and cultivating the hard-earned thanksgiving that I feel, you now have to give it away. And here’s the things about step 3 that truly deepens your practice: no. Attachment.

Give it away and release it. Practice non-attachment. Decide that even though you have worked with it in prayer or meditation, even though you’ve spent time and energy, blood, sweat and tears (play, hopefully, not blood!) cultivating and feeling gratitude, that once it’s all in a row - like a line of ducks - once you get it (identify gratitude) and feel it (have a felt sense of gratitude), you will want to release it.

Yup.

Surrender it

Give it.

This radical practice of exhaling and release is what will catapult you into embodying gratitude. 

You will learn that life is not about tit for tat. We are all made of energy and your body is a silo for energy movement. Your big beautiful Mind is the activator if energy (or if you’re stuck) then it is the big hoarder of energy. 

And as energy is free and moving. You want to be a beacon where good energy comes to you. When you do not release, nothing flows through. 

We are taking today about gratitude, but this could be energy that you’ve held stagnant within your system - like anger or pain or ideas about insufficiency. If you hold on to energy, the flow will be blocked because it’s got nowhere to go.

You are too full for anything good to come through. You’ve got to release and empty before you can be refilled & refueled again.

So, as you can imagine, release the idea of giving it up and surrender Ming is a big topic that I will save for another time. Many traditions have a name for it. The Greeks call the emptying process "kenosis." For those of us who have a Christian upbringing, the kenosis theory states that Jesus gave up some of His divine attributes while He was a man here on earth. Kenosis is the act of 'self-emptying' of one's own will and becoming entirely receptive to the divine will.

Okay - so took the time to talk about kenosis because it’s my favorite name for it. 

The Buddhist practice the art of emptying by emptying the mind. Fasting is another method in both eastern and western culture.

Many eastern traditions go inward to empty (silent meditations) while some do so outwardly (think Zen decor and minimalism).

The digestive system within all of us is a great example of emptying so we can make room for more.

Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world." - Eckhart Tolle.

So to recap the three steps to deepening your gratitude practice again are:

the practice of thanksgiving is to give thanks, feel thanks, and have no attachments to the thanks we give.
— Rev. Evelyn Foreman

Step 1: Expression: Give whole-hearted thanks. 

Step 2: Embody: Feel it. 

Step 3: Exhale: Release gratitude.

In other words, the practice of thanksgiving is to give thanks, feel thanks, and have no attachments to the thanks we give.

We give it away freely, joyfully and wholeheartedly.

That’s it a for today. Much to chew on again. Sit with the steps and let them

Be a seed in your mind. Perhaps next week, tune in again for the practical applications of the 3 Steps of gratitude m, and to release! Working with releasing it

To exhale and release, giving away gratitude and whatever it is that doesn’t serve us any longer so that we can become a channel for which good energy and jujus what to flow.

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Thank you again for your presence today.  This is Evelyn Foreman with Path of Presence celebrating you on every step you take along the path!

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