Step 2 – Gratitude
“May I Be Grateful for Life’s Many Gifts”
I enter the Silence.
I listen to the great guardians,
Trees, without whose breath we cannot live.
I offer prayers of gratitude to the plants and nature,
For it is through nature that we are guided to the Infinite.
Nature is the good spirit that guides us
And shows us how to live in harmony and balance.
(Tezkalci Matorral Cachora, Yoeme/Lacandon Maya)
Now in Step Two, we focus on gratitude for both the easy and the challenging aspects of life. While it is easy to give thanks for the obvious blessings, it is perhaps even more important to welcome the challenges, knowing that they will help us to grow in wisdom, compassion for others, as well as our inner growth towards our highest ideals. When we do this, we might find that our challenges are transformed into blessings.
With gratitude we also invoke and honor our personal sense of sacred, as well as our teachers, mentors, and great spiritual role models. We invite these great spirits to remain present and pray that they guide us. We remind ourselves about the blessings of friends, family, and the natural environment that nurtures and sustains us. And we vow to help nourish, protect, and support all those who have nourished us.
The written and audio-visual resources provided for this topic are meant to help you compose your personal way of meditating on gratitude and to stimulate your journal writing on this topic. Please do your own research on gratitude from other sources as well as reflections on your own life experience. In your journal writing, you might explore your own deepest personal insights as well as teachings on gratitude (and it’s attributes) that have been molded by your tradition, teachers, mentors, or role models. Then, create a personal summary on gratitude that will be the contemplative focus for your personal meditation on gratitude.
As you begin this step, say to yourself with total conviction: “May I be Grateful.” This is not only a prayer, but also your self-directed challenge to fully appreciate both the easy and difficult gifts of life for which we can be grateful. With this determination, engage in meditation to cultivate gratitude and to eliminate the negative states of mind that lead to pessimism, depression, antipathy, and self-doubt. As you meditate on gratitude, bring to mind the summary of your journal writings.
Here are your assignments for this topic.
(1) Video Intro
ISM Part II, Step Two, Pages 59-73. See also these Inspirational verses from various traditions to stimulate your own contemplation and journaling.
Take a look at the additional resources I have provided for this topic and do some of your own research. Gather together and reflect on your own resources and life experiences that support and sustain your gratitude.
Practice the seven steps with special emphasis on Step Two.
• Here is the complete 20 minute audio guided meditation.
(4a) Guided Meditation with Music
This version of ISM combines a guided meditation with spiritual music from Buddhism (Ganden Loseling Monks), Christianity (Fiona Davidson, Fonn, Ceile De), Hinduism (Swami Atmarupananda), Islam (Sufism – Camille Helminski), Judaism (Rabbi Zalman Schachter), and Native American (Carlos Nakai) traditions. It is accompanied by a composition by cello player Michael Fitzpatrick “Dawn of the Millenium.” (It is not presently available for download.)
Contemplate and write about the reasons you have to be grateful. You might focus your gratitude for:
- your great teachers, mentors and role models;
- the natural world that nourishes and sustains you;
- the blessings of family, friends, food, housing and health;
- a significant challenge in your life and how it is deepening your wisdom and empathy for others, and commitment to spiritual practice.
As you focus on one of the above, you might experience how sincere gratitude can give rise to these attributes and qualities. We will ‘unpack’ these in our weekly teleconference.
- “Trust and Faith”
(6) Weekly Class Audio-Video Recordings
If you weren’t able to attend the live online class, or would like to watch/listen again, please click the following link.
(7) Shared Reflections:
The attitude of gratitude is not always easy to sustain. Yet if we cultivate the practices related to gratitude, it will arise and be sustained quite naturally. After reading the chapter, journaling and meditating on gratitude, please share your reflections. By posting our reflections, we will help each other to cultivate and sustain the attitude of gratitude.