Spiritual Rock Bottom

Off and on for a while I’ve wondered if I can truly have a deep, great, spiritual connection with the divine creator.  Can I connect to my spiritual needs and desires?  My fear has been, recently, that since I have not had a time where I have hit rock bottom, I can’t truly recognize spiritual growth.

Let me first say, I am truly grateful for the life I live.  I am in no way complaining that I haven’t hit rock bottom.  I have had many amazing people in my life that have ensured I do not have to make the long painful journey of recovering my life from the bowels of heartbreak and struggle.  I have had bumps in the road, tough times, but nothing compared to what many have experienced in the way of pain.  For that, again, I am abundantly grateful.

With that being said, many spiritual teachers have said we are most open to spiritual growth as we recover from our lives crashing down around us.  As I’ve pondered this recently I’ve come to believe that we truly don’t need to hit those low points in our lives to become great spiritual seekers.  All we need is compassion, love, and openness.

We live in a connected digital world.  We can find any story on any subject within seconds. And for many, there is a morbid fascination with the suffering of others.  Schadenfreude, as the Germans have coined it.  Though I do not find happiness in others’ misfortunes, I can find the spark of spiritual growth.  I can find my compassion, I can find my love, I can find my openness, my gratitude in these painful, heart-wrenching stories that are no longer miles away but are a part of my spiritual psyche.  They cannot be ignored.  How can I help?  How can I make this world a better place?  How can I expand my love, compassion, and kindness to ensure there are less and less of these rock bottom moments in the world? That is the true definition of deep spiritual practice.

So, when, like me, you begin to wonder what you can do to deepen your spiritual practice, follow this advice: meditate on how you can expand your love, compassion, kindness, and gratitude into a world that so desperately needs them.

Thank The Now Publication

I am very happy to announce that my first article as a monthly contributor for Thank The Now has been published.  Please check it out and show some love.  It is much appreciated.  This article has not appeared in my blog.  It is exclusive to Thank The Now.

The article is called: Embrace Your Innate Talents



Finding the Joy of Gratitude

In our darkest moments, deepest depressions, and in the midst of challenging emotions, gratitude can be our life preserver. And as I write this I am pondering the possible ending of a relationship and the emotional whirlwind that entails. I look to gratitude to help ease the emotional burden. But we have to know how to be grateful. One of my favorite quotes is from Meister Johannes Eckhart. He was a Dominican Friar from the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Eckhart preached often, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Eckhart knew the value of gratitude and how it could bring those who professed it and those that believed in its power closer to the divine.

Having battled depression and anger I can attest to the power of being grateful. It is a difficult emotion to grab onto, but once you have it you should use it. In the last year I read a book I found in the Barnes and Noble bargain section titled, A Simple Act of Gratitude, by John Kralik. It was an easy read and I have passed it on to several people who I felt would appreciate and benefit from reading it. It is not based on any religious dogma. It is the simple story of a lawyer that set out to build his own practice. When the firm began to fail and was on the brink of closing Kralik took a moment to write a thank you note to his son. This sparked further thank you notes to family, friends, and clients. He began a year long project to write 365 thank you notes. He found that with each thank you note his true feelings of gratitude soared. He also discovered that sending a thank you note to a client that was not paying their legal fees or seriously late with payment chipped away at his anger. It had the added bonus of reminding that client to pay their fees.

Within months Kralik’s practice was climbing out of the red and back into the black. He attributes this to taking the time to make his clients, family, and loved ones know how important they were to him. He did not quite reach his goal of 365 thank you notes, but he continues to write them and profess their importance.

I enjoyed this book so much I started writing thank you notes myself. I wrote several to my parents, co-workers, and even my neighbor. I would mail them, or place them in their mailbox at work. Each thank you note led to a phone call or a visit from those I left the note for. They were touched by my gratitude. But, more importantly, I was touched by my own gratitude. Not, in an egocentric way, but just how much better I felt writing the note and taking them time to feel grateful. I found that I became less angry and my depression lessened as well. Just that simple mindful act of writing and feeling gratitude helped alter my moods.

In today’s busy society we often rush through our days. We don’t stop to think about how others have helped us through that day. The friend that helped us pick up the papers we dropped in the hallway. The family member that calls or texts out of the blue just to say, “I love you.” These acts of love and kindness begin to fan the flames of gratitude. We need those flames to build. With each mindful moment of gratitude we experience the lighter and happier we become. Even if you are angry at someone, take a moment to thank them. Even if you have to fake the emotion. Because the more you say thank you the more you will actually begin to feel that gratitude.

Make a list. Who are you thankful for? What in your life are you grateful to have? No matter how small or insignificant you feel the object is, no matter how little that person is in your life, write it down. Keep the list with you; in your wallet or your purse. Refer to it often, update it often. Make this a living breathing list that is alive with your gratitude. Once you start feeling the gratitude it becomes easier and easier with every person and every thing you are grateful for. When you look at the list take note of how you feel. Are you happier? Is there a smile on your lips? Can you feel the gratitude? Try this exercise for two weeks. Give it your full effort and mindful attention and see if your mood doesn’t improve. What can it hurt? Find the joy of gratitude.