As Thanksgiving and the holidays approach, we hear messages everywhere encouraging us to focus on gratitude.
But if you are in the midst of pain or distress, it can be extremely difficult to shift into a place of gratitude. “How can I be grateful when I am hurting so deeply?” you may be thinking. If this is you, I’d like you to consider something that may seem impossible.
It can actually be extremely healing to be grateful not only for our blessings, but also for our pain.
When a challenging event happens, the pain and stress can cause worry, frustration and anxiety, which is recorded in our energy system. If we hold on to the thoughts and feelings around the situation, the energy flow can become stuck, and symptoms are likely to continue or escalate.
However, if we find ways to lessen the energetic charge around that event, we can open the door to new possibilities for healing and health.
An excellent way to change the energy around a negative experience is to first acknowledge the reality of how you are feeling, and then focus on gratitude for the lessons that the experience is teaching. For example, if you recently broke your ankle, you could be grateful for the realization that you need to slow down or for the opportunity to practice accepting help from others. If you recently went through a divorce, perhaps the lesson is about how to ask more directly for what you need or how to be more of your own person.
All of life’s challenges have hidden lessons. When we make a point of looking for them, we can change our perspective on those challenges and turn them into opportunities for growth. The added bonus is that the stuck energy begins to unwind and release, leading to an improvement in energetic flow and balance, which brings relief from pain and facilitates healing in body, mind, and spirit.
There are many ways to cultivate a practice of gratitude. Keeping a journal and listing 3 things that you are grateful for every day is a simple and easy way to get in the habit. Mindfulness meditation is another great way to develop the ability to stay present in each moment and be grateful.
But my personal favorite gratitude practice happens each night as I lay in bed. I think through all the events of the day, the good the bad and the ugly, and as each memory arises I gently give thanks for all that I have experienced. This simple activity opens my heart and, as I drift off to sleep, I am reminded that I am right where I need to be.
“Everything that happens to you contains a spiritual lesson. You can choose to take whatever comes your way and transform it into something beautiful.” ~Sandra Ingerman