Finding Personal Empowerment Through Thanks

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”—Thich Nhat Hanh

Personal empowerment is about learning to ride the currents of the river of life skillfully and gracefully. Being grateful for what exists in the present moment is an effective way to achieve true personal empowerment, and the process begins by accepting “what is” in the here and now.

So much of our energy in life is wasted on resisting reality–resisting the current of the river of our lives and attempting to paddle upstream–instead of listening deeply to the river and maneuvering skillfully where we are in this moment. If we fight with reality, we become exhausted, tired and depressed. To maneuver effectively through life, we must release unrealistic expectations of ourselves, others and reality. Ironically, when we accept where we are in this moment, energy is freed to work creatively towards new horizons and possibilities.

When we practice gratitude, we are honoring reality and appreciating the grace of this moment. In this way, we learn to be who we are, on the way to becoming who we may be.

In its most basic form, gratitude can be experienced right now by taking a deep breath and noticing the pleasure and miracle of breathing. One powerful way to start is in a kneeling position with eyes closed and head bowed, giving thanks for air to breathe, Earth to be, eyes to see, ears to hear, going through all of the most basic things that we are grateful for silently within the sanctuary of our own heart.

A gratitude journal is also a wonderful practice; the simple act of writing down what we are grateful for daily. Doing this at the end of the day gives us a chance to note our daily inspirations; what brought a sense of peace and contentment, stimulated courage or encouraged a feeling of clarity and presence. Seen from this perspective, the simplest moments can take on a different power and importance, whether it is the beauty of a sunset dancing on the horizon, the warm welcome of a beloved pet or a bright smile from a child, a friend or even a cashier at the grocery store.

The real power of doing these practices is that over time, instead of focusing on the negative, we begin to keep an eye and ear out for such moments of appreciation and gratitude; we begin to look for things to be grateful for, because we will try to remember them for the evening journal entry.

Gratitude empowers each of us to experience our interconnection with each other, nature and our indwelling spirit. When we feel connected to ourselves, each other and life in this way, there is nothing we cannot do. When we start with gratitude for all we already are, it is like giving sunshine and water to the seeds of our eventual becoming. We discover personal empowerment and bloom into the shining version of our envisioned future.

Dr. Michael DeMaria is an integrative psychologist, author and yoga/meditation teacher. His book, Peace Within: Free Your Mind, Heal Your Heart, Find Your Passion and Flow Through the Rapids of Modern Life, will be released in 2015.

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