When I witness the many ways either I am struggling, or any part of creation is struggling, it is hard to feel anything. In the past I have been great at numbing my heart by focusing on all that has to be done. But now I recognize that when I shut down the difficult feelings, I also shut down the joy within me.
Gratitude is a pathway that helps me open my heart. This is not as simple as writing a list of things for which I am grateful. It’s important to notice the effects of gratitude on my heart. By placing a hand on my chest to draw attention there, I tune into my heart sensations:
I then think of something for which I am grateful (a beautiful sunset, an interaction with a close friend, a playful puppy) and notice any shifts in sensation. With these shifts I notice a sense of connection to that for which I am grateful, a recognition that I am not alone in this world. This opens me to an understanding that we are all connected and yet separate.
I also recognize that, in the time it took me to experience this moment, there are others who experienced a moment of trauma. As I acknowledge this, I notice my heart feeling a variety of emotions—truly all emotions—the pain and joy of the world. It is as if my heart is opening to hold all this, while at the same time having a sense of being held—an acceptance that in this moment all these feelings are true.
I invite you to notice your heart space. Let gratitude be one way to open your heart to experience connection and acceptance of all there is.