Chapter 7--Gratitude and Meditation

          Happiness means being at peace with ourselves wherever we are, who ever we’re with, whatever we feel, whatever we’re going through and whatever we have or lack.
Photo by Teisha Preece
          Life doesn’t always turn out the way we hope or expect. It is easy to feel overwhelmed  by discouragement, fear, and anger. Satan uses such feelings as an opportunity to attack us and lead us to self-criticism and finding fault in others. The more we focus on negative emotions, the stronger they become, until they begin to dominate our thoughts, diminishing our ability to feel the Spirit and find happiness. The proverb “As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7) applies both to negative thoughts and positive thoughts. One way to counter our negative emotions is to ponder and express gratitude for the many ways in which we are blessed.

How can we acknowledge our difficulties without becoming consumed by them?

          In the midst of affliction, it may be hard to see the good around us when we feel weighed down with so much pain and sorrow. However, we have many reasons to be grateful. To those who struggle to see God’s hand in their lives because of their challenges--tonight, and tomorrow night, pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children?  
          There are many tender mercies that enrich our lives and let us know that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and is mindful of us in a very personal way. As we consistently take time each day to ponder and record the things for which we are grateful, the evidence of God’s hand in our lives becomes clearer. We appreciate more fully the many blessings that have come to us in the past. We also watch for, recognize, and rejoice in the blessings that come each day.  In our journey of healing, gratitude changes our hearts and helps us experience joy through the goodness of God and the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.
          If selfishness and pride are the seedbeds and daily diet in the Valley of the Addicted, the antidote is Gratitude and Humility.   Gratitude remembered daily will protect against each day's challenges and will allow us to endure difficult moments.  Gratitude is acknowledgment.  To feel gratitude is to know we are not alone.

What else helps you recognize the hand of God in your life?

          Above all things, we are grateful for God. He has been by our side, walking with us through good and bad times. Every good thing in our lives is a blessing from the God. In the words of Isaiah, “God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).   Our gratitude for God inspires us to be a little better, love a little more, and become more like Christ. 

          How can you show your gratitude to Him?

          We are told that meditation is helpful to grow closer to the God and the Savior.  Meditation is creating stillness and peace in the mind, beyond the usual chatter and clutter that usually fills it.  This is not to say meditation is about nothing.  To the contrary, it is about everything.  Some people say that when they meditate, they fall asleep.  Does it really matter?  In the sleeping state, we often receive information or answers to questions as well as information about the past, present and future…answers to nagging questions or just plain unsolicited wisdom comes. Meditation is not about taking a test, but about taking an adventure.  Meditation is surrender to the guidance of Spirit.

     Keep meditations simple. An attitude of openness, interest, exploration and curiosity will help  let go of judgments, expectations and other distractions that keep us from being fully present.   It has been discovered that right brain practices such as meditation and imagery will actually alter the blood chemistry, producing the body's natural equivalent of tranquilizers and antidepressants.  Meditation is the exercise of singular, mindful attention in a relaxed but focused and alert way.  Scrubbing pots, watching horses graze, playing golf, sketching, when done in a highly focused and mindful way is meditation.

"Belief isn't absolutely necessary…but a clear intention is extremely important."

          We are all counseled to meditate, pray and be still.  When do we find time in our busy world for that?  How do we work on spirituality and inner growth when we have families to care for and jobs to attend? Every day we need to exercise, read, pray, meditate, visualize, do affirmations, improve relationships and express gratitude.  How do we get that all in?  Meditation is simply learning to quiet the mind.  How many times have we been on a phone call and someone in the room is trying to talk to us?  We get frustrated because we can’t hear both conversations at the same time.  That’s what it’s like when we begin to meditate.  We won’t feel inspiration when mind chatter is going on. Meditating is clearing our minds of clutter and “self-talk”.   Meditating is creating awareness in thoughts, feelings and emotions and tapping into spirit which allows us to be receptive to information and from God through the Holy Ghost. 
    Meditation does not have to be sitting still.  We can practice being aware of our surroundings and be mindful of every moment.  Driving, Walking, Exercising, Sitting in church.  Before sleep and upon waking.  Bathing, showering.  Give gratitude with every activity. Washing our hands, passing a mirror, brushing our teeth, travelling in a car. It can all be a moving meditation.  Greet and meet everyone with love.  Silently say “I love you” to every person. Verbally express love to loved ones.
What are some other ways to incorporate a "moving meditation"?

Personal Learning and Application

Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, insights, and plans to implement what you learn. As the needs and circumstances in your life change, repeating these answers will provide you with new insights.  Go back to the questions in the chapter.  Write your answers.  Each time you go through a chapter, your answers might change.

1.  Try THE HOLY CHILD meditation.  Envision the infant from your past standing in your heart, filling you with knowledge. The child has come so recently from heavenly home.  If they don't have anything to say, just concentrate on their presence.  Do this meditation five minutes a day for a month.   Find a photo of yourself taken in the first year of life.  Write down the memories and mental impressions that come up for you…colors, sounds.  The more we remember, the more we can follow our true lives.
2.  Practice gratitude instead of misery.  Search for everything, anything, just to put gratitude on it.
Is a situation, problem or issue causing you misery?
Do you need guidance to make an important decision?
3.  If you had a magic wand to instantly change any situation, which one would you transform?
4.   Make a gratitude List, usually within 1/2 hour of waking up.
“Today I am grateful that…..”
Include emotions you are carrying around that you may think are bad or wrong to feel, that you have been resisting, denying.
Resentments and fears make an excellent focus, so do fears.
Don’t overthink.  Let it pour out. When you’re writing what you’re grateful for, consciously breathe into your emotions, especially those you’d call “negative”
Write about any “shifts” you notice.

5.  Make a list of people you resent, people you haven’t forgiven, refuse to forgive or cannot forgive.  You can include “forgiving these people” in your goal list.  The list can include more than people.

6. If you are obsessing or worrying over something, tell yourself to feel afraid or obsess for 15 minutes or half hour.  Or that you HAVE to sit and worry.  In each of us is an unruly child.  Telling him to do something, makes him want to stop.
Write about what happens when you do this.

7.  What does the word Miracle mean to you?

8.  Make a list of miracles you’ve seen or heard about or experienced.

9.  Have you ever asked for a miracle? Make a list of the miracles you wanted, maybe asked for, but didn’t get.

 Were you or are you still angry about not receiving them?

If you could ask for and receive a miracle right now, what would it be?

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