Gratefulness as a daily practice

As we have just celebrated Thanksgiving in the US, I thought it appropriate to write about gratitude today.

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We have all heard the common expression: Is the glass half empty or half full? which is used rhetorically for any given situation. Our answer to this question reflects our outlook on life, we either see what we have (the half-full glass) or what we lack (the half-empty glass), and… we always have the choice.

Every day is an opportunity to see “the glass” half empty or half full. Every day and in every situation we get to decide what we want to focus on. By focusing on what we have as opposed to what we lack, we are practicing gratefulness, it is as simple as that!

By opening our eyes to the things we do have, even in times of crisis, we are hanging onto what is good in our life, and that will help us see through the hard times more effectively and find the resources we need to solve problems and overcome difficulties more easily. This does not mean being in denial, not at all! we can be aware of the struggles, we can honor our emotions, we may need an outlet for tears and grief, and all that is normal and is totally OK; but we can still practice gratefulness in the midst of it all, by acknowledging the good things that we have (however few they may be).

Making gratefulness into a daily practice is very important, and we can do so by establishing a daily ritual so in time it will become second nature. A good time to do this is every morning when you wake up or every night before bed, it only takes a few minutes at most!

You can simply acknowledge all the good things you have (or have experienced), or if you prefer you can give thanks to God, the Universe, etc. I usually write a list of things I am grateful for or simply say them our loud.

Some days it may be harder to find things to be grateful for, when everything seems dark and hopeless (we all have those days), but there is always something! For instance: I may give thanks for my eyes, that allow me to see, for the big smiles my kids greet me with, for my parents’ unconditional support, etc. We can ALWAYS find something, always!

We can also be thankful for the small things that happen in our days, for instance: spending a couple hours with a good friend, or sharing a good meal with a loved one, or the smile we got from a stranger… every day gives us an opportunity to find something good, but we need to be aware of it! People often take those things for granted, and focus only on what they lack or what is not working in their lives, so they diminish importance to the, sometimes small, gifts that are around them all the time. They don’t even see them!

Once you become aware of the importance of simple gestures and actions, you also become more willing to offer them to others. When I realize that a smile can make me grateful, I chose to smile more, because that might make other people feel grateful, so gratefulness is also a way to expand your own heart and to give off good vibes around you. Gratefulness is a beautiful thing! Its effect in our life is much greater than we can imagine.

According to the law of attraction, we attract what we focus on, so if we focus on the good things, we will attract more good things, and if we focus on what we lack we will attract more lack… the law really works. If we think of it, it makes total sense, we are made up of energy, so the energy waves that we emit are like magnets that attract the same type of energy, if we vibrate at the frequency of abundance (focusing on what we have) we will see more abundance in our lives, and vice-versa.

Being grateful is very important especially in times of crisis, as it helps us remember that there is always something that is good, something that is working in our lives. This will help us navigate the difficult times much better by keeping us connected to the good things, so we don’t sink into total despair or hopeless mode.

As long as this practice is part of your daily life, you can tap into it whenever you need some comfort and relief.

I would like to share an excerpt I found in the Magazine Psychology Today.

The Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, say, a consumer-oriented emphasis on what one wants or needs—and is currently receiving a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology. Gratitude is what gets poured into the glass to make it half full. Studies show that gratitude not only can be deliberately cultivated but can increase levels of well-being and happiness among those who do cultivate it. In addition, grateful thinking—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.

So I encourage you today to start a daily practice of gratefulness, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes and you will see how it magically brings more and more blessings into your life. You don’t need to wait till next Thanksgiving!!

Here is a video that may inspire you to be grateful every day!

Have a good week!

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The Truth is Within Us

I have always been deeply interested and curious about the striking similarities we can find in the teachings of great Spiritual Teachers like Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, and others. These great Spiritual Teachers have embodied proof of the undeniable existence of God (the Divine, the Cosmic Universe, Consciousness, the Creator, etc. )

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However, the Spiritual Teachers did not personally start any religion, they simply shared their teachings and hoped that they would spread, so in time, their followers gathered in their name and established institutionalized religions based on their Masters’ teachings. Most institutionalized religions are based on ancient scriptures that are believed to represent the original teachings of the great Masters.

The problem that often arises when following scriptures is the conflicting interpretations of words. Although words and languages are one of our most trusted ways to communicate knowledge, words are limited and can be interpreted differently by different people in different stages of human history and evolution.

Therefore, it is hard to own the truth behind the words, especially if the words are being interpreted solely with our intellect, and in most cases people don’t even seek to interpret the words, they just take the interpretations of those who came before them and make them their own; which is what happens in most religions.

The reason why we can’t rely on our intellect or that of our ancestors is because the truth of God can not really be explained or measured, it can only be experienced. Our reasoning can not possibly grasp the immensity of the Divine, so it is literally impossible to convey it with words.

Another problem with religions is that in most cases they worship their Spiritual Leader and by doing so they often forget about the essence of their message. True Spiritual leaders are not seeking to be worshiped, they are trying to convey a message, the message of their experience of God. I once heard a metaphor that said that Spiritual Teachers are like a teapot containing a delicious magical tea, but religions are focused on worshiping the teapot instead of drinking the tea!

The experience of God or rather the experience of Truth (the truth of our existence) is open to every single human being, regardless of their religion or lack of, their level of education, their culture, their color, etc. there are no conditions to the experience of God, it is accessible to every single one of us. This is because the experience is unique to each of us and the truth is within everyone of us.

Although we can certainly use the wise teachings offered by religions, we need to seek the truth inside ourselves, if we don’t do this, the truth will never be revealed to us. The experience of God (or truth), is the inner knowing that lies dormant within every human being. This is something most great Spiritual Leaders have said, in different ways:

Jesus: “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)

Prophet Muhammad: “There is no intermediary between God and man. By remembering God, a person establishes direct contact with Him.”

“The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to reveal itself.” Thích Nhất Hạnh

The story of Brahma in Hinduism: “Brahma seated himself on the floating Lotus and looked in all directions for any other beings. Not seeing anyone around but feeling a desire for knowledge, he meditated, seeking knowledge within himself. There he found Truth, God himself, in his own heart, and looking around he now saw God everywhere.”

It is by removing the obstacles to our understanding that the truth will reveal itself from within. The problem is that our material existence brings a lot of obstacles to our understanding of the truth. Our judgments and resistance of our surroundings are major obstacles to our connection with our inner wisdom.

It is not easy to let go of these obstacles (distractions) as long as we are in a human body, but if we see our body as the temple that holds our spirit, our soul, our essence and our truth, we can begin to connect with it, even through our body itself. If we let go of our mind reasoning and logic, and our sense-based perceptions and judgments we can begin to connect to our inner knowing, we can allow it to come out, and we can start to feel the truth, to experience it.

The teachings of religions, as much as our everyday life experiences and relationships can be great teachers, because God (Truth) is revealing itself to us everyday and through everything, but it is only until we “take our blinders off” (remove the obstacles) that we can finally see the truth or rather feel it.

I encourage you to find ways in which to quiet your mind and let go of judgments, in order to find that silence within that will help you reveal the inner wisdom that lies beneath you.

Have a good week!

Related Articles and links:

The Opportunity is Here

Faith, Religion and Spirituality

If you are interested in exploring the similarities amongst religions I recommend you look at The Harmony Project Website.


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The opportunity is here!

This week I would like to reflect on a phrase from the Dalai Lama that really resonates with what I believe in, here it is:

All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.
This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

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Many currents of thought say that the world is evolving towards a higher plane of consciousness and this shift gives us a great opportunity to find spirituality beyond religion.

Although all religions deserve respect, not a single one of them can pretend to own the whole truth of our existence.

Brought up as a Catholic, I recognize many great teachings of my religion and really value it because it has helped shape who I am, however, as I wrote in a previous post: Faith, Religion and Spirituality, our experience of God is very personal and can’t be fully dictated by a single religion.

Religion can help us enter the realm of spirituality, but in many cases it can also hinder our chances to find God, for we can become stuck with the little stuff, the things that are not important and that distract us from the essence, the truth. We should not forget that religions are human entities and therefore flawed, as history can attest to.

Plus, if we take all the major religions in the world, we can find a lot of similarities in their teachings and those similarities are usually what is really important, because that is what “unites” us all as a human family. As the Dalai Lama says: love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness are values that we should retain. But all the other things that seem to define specific religions and distinguish them from one another are the things that give us a sense of separation and antagonism, which goes against our true essence.

In this new current of belief, for instance, spirituality and science can go hand by hand, paving the road for a new faith, also, the concept of oneness emphasizes the idea of unity, respect, love, cooperation, etc.

The world is changing at a really fast speed, and we can’t remain “stuck” we need to grow and realize that there is an incredible momentum towards a higher level of awareness, which does not dismiss all the values of our church or religion but it gives us permission to look beyond it to find an even greater connection to God.

The light that shines in everyone of us is the same and only, and if we can connect to that light we will see the entire world differently because we will realize that we are all deeply connected indeed. But in order to see this light, we need first to turn off the distractions: all the material noise of our day to day crazy race.

I find all this very exciting because it is my passion to follow this topics, of course, however, I believe that anyone, no matter what their interests are and no matter where they are spiritually speaking, can be open to this incredible opportunity to grow beyond our material existence and into a much deeper level of self.

Have a great week!


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Change of Paradigm

This morning I woke up reflecting on a phrase that Jean Houston said in last week’s sessions.

As I mentioned in my posting “Your Senses, a Gateway to the Present Moment” I am taking a course with this amazing woman, and she is making me think a LOT with her revolutionary ideas and exercises.

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For all of us, soul-searching people (as I consider myself to be), we may think that :

“we are human beings having a spiritual experience, but what if, we were spiritual beings having a human experience?” – Jean Houston.

How is that for a change of paradigm! I loved this phrase and I truly believe that this is a possibility indeed.

Many currents of thought believe that we are much more than our flesh and bones, in fact the idea is that we are a wonderful creation that is part of a greater, powerful source, for some, this source is called God, for others is Energy, yet for others is a Universal Consciousness; whatever we call it, the idea is that we come from the source into our physical bodies and then we leave our physical bodies to go back to the source.

There are also many books and studies that do not follow a specific religion, nor a spiritual current, but support the idea that there is more to us than our physical existence, therefore, why not think of ourselves as spiritual beings having a human experience!

I believe that seeing ourselves in this new light may bring a lot of positive benefits to our human experience, for once we can explore the idea that if we belong to a powerful source, we have in us the resources that can help us make the best of our human experience. If this source is great, powerful and not ruled by time and space, we can also think that this source shares the knowledge and history of the entire universe and therefore holds a wisdom that is beyond our wildest dreams. And if we are indeed part of this source, wouldn’t we have access to its unlimited wisdom…?

I believe we DO, we just don’t always know how to access it. If we are willing to accept this new paradigm and explore the many ways in which we can open ourselves to receive this wisdom, this guidance, this knowledge; we can transform our lives for the better!

I recently read a book called “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace Wattles (the link actually is for his trilogy). It is an interesting book, with simple concepts and written with a unique style, that is not too much my cup of tea, but his teachings are nevertheless very interesting. He defends that “There is a Thinking Stuff (what I call the source) from which all things are made and which, in its original state, permeates, penetrates and fills the interspaces of the universe.”

He also states that a thought in this substance produces the thing that is imagined by that thought. In other words he defends that we, human beings, as thinking beings, can impress this substance (or source) with our thoughts and therefore create or rather co-create our lives, if this is so, we can start living by design instead of by default.

I truly believe in the concepts mentioned above and I am seeing results everyday in my own life, the change of paradigm is happening in my life and, of course it is a work in progress, with ups in downs, but it is a wonderful and empowering way to live!

There is a lot more to the concepts that I mention above, that could not be described in a few paragraphs, and I use simple words, but there is of course a world behind these ideas. However, a change of paradigm can start as soon as you open your mind to accept new concepts even if you do not understand them fully yet.

I invite you to consider these interesting concepts and a possible change of paradigm in your own life. You will never feel alone or hopeless anymore as long as you believe that there is more to you than a physical body, that you are never alone and that you have the power to change your life.

“A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions”
Oliver Wendell Holmes

“It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated. “
Sharon Salzberg

Have a great week!

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