Bridges to Gratitude
Part 2by download here.
Bridges to Gratitude, Part 2, continues with Linda Douty’s exploration of the many ways we can become gratitude, be thankfulness. The summary below lists some of the practices that Douty recommends with a quote or two from her talk. On the audio version, Douty gives significantly more detail and explains how these practices can be incorporated into your life:
Gifts and Graces
“Our creative and emotional wiring is just as unique as a thumbprint, and simply coming to know the gifts and graces that God has given us can unleash a torrent of gratitude.
“One of the most accurate aids to this discovery comes in the form of a daily journaling practice called the Examen. It is a variation on an ancient practice, substituting positive questions for the usual negative ones. People who are puzzled about what lights their fire can get amazing clues after employing this practice for just a few weeks.”
Lend a Hand
“We feel gratitude toward others AS we feel gratitude toward ourselves. And, we begin to feel more happy and grateful as we support others in being happy and grateful—a surprising serendipity.”
“There are many inspiring stories of folks whose misfortunes have been catalysts for deeper meaning in their lives. Often, traumatic situations which seemed almost unbearable at the time become occasions where some people are broken open rather than broken down.”
Bridges of the Mind
“Our negative thoughts and resulting litanies of complaint create grooves in our psyches just as a wheelbarrow carves out a rut in the dirt, burrowing deeper as it reinforces the same track over and over. If we want to establish new patterns of thought, we place our attention on thankfulness, joy, and love so that the groove of gratitude is deepened. So even when circumstances take us out of the groove temporarily, we can slip back into it with ease and grace.”
“People who keep a gratitude journal seem to develop a greater sense of connectedness to the world as they are reminded of things others have done for them.”
“Aha,”not “Oh, no”
“We can change our 'oh, no, I’m a lost cause' to 'Aha, there’s that same pattern again; thank you, God, for showing me that!' Our constant ally, the breath, can assist us here as we breathe in the new awareness (aha) on the inhale and breathe out the shaming judgment (oh, no) on the exhale.”
“Monitoring the words we use can give us a window into the workings of the mind. So be on constant alert for these words: should, ought, must, need to, supposed to, they want me to, I’ve got to. They are signals that we may be responding to someone else’s dictates and desires, not the voice of our own soul."
Preparation Prayer Make a list of everything you foresee happening in your day. "Slowly pray through the list for the day, inviting the spirit of God to go before you, to accompany you, to guide you through every single moment.”
The Brew Method proposed by Kirk Jones
B – Be still.
R – Receive God’s love.
E – Embrace who you are.
W – Welcome the day.
“Trash and gratuitous violence are poor nourishment for the soul. They shape our thoughts in insidious ways—and the thoughts have a subtle effect on the realities we project.…
“We can start noticing not only the ‘mind food’ we imbibe, but also the thoughts we formulate as a result. We can catch the thoughts as they rise in our heads and intentionally stop them, rather than waiting until they’ve done their toxic work.…
“This tactic puts us in the empowering position of being in charge of our minds, rather than our minds controlling us.”
"Imagine prayerfully that your heart is a fertile field that has been readied for planting. What kinds of seeds do you want to grow? What kind of harvest can you expect? Are you willing to water your seeds with gratitude, faith, and prayer?”
“Teachers through the ages have referred to the usual whirl inside our heads as the 'monkey mind,' in which our thoughts are like wild monkeys jumping from limb to limb through the jungle, out of control.… Taming this monkey-mind of ours is a skill that takes practice, practice, practice.
“Any number of meditation methods can be useful. While we can try a variety of techniques, over time we’ll naturally settle into a pattern that fits our own temperament and time constraints.”
“Asking for something reflects a lack of it— the implication is that we don’t have it. The method of positive prayer recommends that we visualize the abundance beforehand and feel the exhilaration and gratitude in the process, as if it were already accomplished, not in the future, but now.”
Bridges of the Spirit
"The bridge of silence is like the undergirding that supports all the other bridges to a thankful heart.… Silent prayer is not the silence of a graveyard, but the silence of a garden growing."
“The flow of gratitude is part of that same creative current that flows through everything. However, a tense and turbulent mind throws a dam across the water and obstructs the flow."
“I don’t need to convince you that hardship is a refining fire that often burns away the dross and leaves the pure gold of gratitude. We can allow the experience to break us down or break us open. Both processes are painful, to be sure, but having faith in the formative outcome can help to provide the impetus to hang in there.”
“Hope in a spiritual sense acknowledges the darkness at hand and asserts that even if things don’t get better, there is ultimately a light at the core of things, a love that will not let us go. Hope puts our despair on 'hold' so that healing can begin and gratitude can take root.”
“One factor that affects this attitude has to do with what one believes about the cause of the event. If the belief system is one that asserts, ‘It’s God’s will,’ then a feeling of victimhood is inevitable.… If, in fact, we are gifted with an inborn capacity for resilience, the inevitable outgrowth of that knowledge has to be profound gratitude.”
“I don’t see how authentic gratitude is possible apart from a deep sense of connection—to God, to oneself, and to others.
“Our spiritual connection to God has been likened to a phone line that is always open. It’s vital, of course, to keep our end of the line open and uncluttered so that we can partake of the greater gratitude that comes from the nature of God."
“Saying honestly that you are willing to move toward a thankful heart invites the knowledge of how you might be resisting it. Then those barriers can be named, worked with, and healed.”
Thank You, What Next?
“I want to end this section on spiritual bridges with a simple practice that carries a forward dynamic. It’s called the 'Thank You, What Next' prayer and represents the natural rhythm of gratitude and hope. Establishing our spirits in a stance of thanksgiving, it invites the guidance of God and opens us up to the future. It lends itself well to the breath-prayer format, because it attaches so seamlessly to the pattern of inhale and exhale. Inhale 'thank you'; exhale 'what's next?'
“So, as YOU embark on your journey to a thankful heart, believing that it’s vitally important and dealing with the barriers to it, take a step in faith toward one of these bridge of body, mind, and spirit.”