Being grateful for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don't have, enables you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. Gratitude is a spiritual practice, and a regular ritual of writing down all the good things that happen to you on a daily basis will enhance your life enormously.
You can also use your feelings of gratitude to help others. All you need is a small container and a number of coins. Sit quietly and think about all the things you're grateful for. Every time you think of something, place a coin in the container. At the end of this ritual, or when the container is full, donate the money to your favorite charity.
Practicing unconditional gratitude is a highly effective way to develop spiritually. It's easy to be grateful when good things occur. However, it's a different matter when life is proving difficult and painful. Many people moan and groan when bad things occur and fail to learn the spiritual lessons that are present in every experience. Other people, by far the minority, accept these experiences as part of the rich tapestry of life, and use them to grow inwardly. Here's an interesting ritual you can perform when life is not going your way.
- Sit down comfortably, close your eyes, and take several slow, deep breaths.
- Think of something good that has happened to you recently. It doesn't need to be anything major. It might be someone letting you change lanes in rush hour traffic. It could be a chance meeting with a good friend. Relive the experience in your mind, and give thanks to the architect of the universe for making it happen.
- Think of a person or animal you love. Allow yourself to relive the feelings you have when you spend time with this special person or pet. Again give thanks to the architect of the universe for bringing you together.
- Think of an occasion when you were honored or appreciated by others. This doesn't necessarily mean something huge, such as a presidential citation. It could be your fifth birthday party. Allow yourself to relive this special event in your mind, and then thank the architect of the universe for enabling it to happen.
- Think about your present situation and what is going on in your life. Accept that the experience is occurring and there's nothing you can do about it. You can become angry and upset, but you realize there's no point in doing that, as it won't make the situation go away. You can also tell yourself that you've experienced difficult times in the past, and that eventually the problems were resolved and life got back to normal. You know that this problem will soon be behind you, too.
- In your imagination, thank the architect of the universe for giving you a chance to grow spiritually. Ask how you can turn the experience to your highest good and how you can make the most of your current situation.
- Sit quietly for a minute or two, paying attention to your breathing, and wait to see what ideas and insights pop into your mind.
- Finish the ritual by saying thank you to the architect of the universe and affirm that you're growing spiritually.
- Count from one to five, open your eyes, stretch, and when you feel ready, get up.
You should repeat this ritual as often as necessary until the difficulty has been resolved.
Excerpted from Rituals for Beginners, by Richard Webster.