Teachings on Gratitude

Today, I want to relate to you the teachings on gratitude that I learned from Father Eli back in 1973. From my point of view, the expression of gratitude is one of the components of inner peace and a happy life. Things have really changed for me since I began practicing gratitude.

Father Eli taught that gratitude is a means of preparing yourself for an excellent Mindfulness Break. He taught us to think about the things that we are grateful for and recommended that we make a list. He taught us to go over the events of the day when we reached a state of relaxation in our daily practice and find three things we were grateful for that day. When we count our blessings, we tune into our higher selves and come in contact with our inner knowing.

Father Eli writes regarding the old saying,

“I felt bad because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Probably the man who had no feet felt bad until he met a man who had no arms or legs and lived in a basket. Perhaps the man in the basket then could compare himself to the man dying in extreme pain and say, “At least I’m comfortable in my basket.” (Second Book of Wisdom, Lesson 18.)

Eli said that there is always something to be grateful for. One of the most important things is the opportunity to work towards awakening in this life. When you tell someone you are thankful for what they did, they tend to do more for us. He gives the example of a child. You bring a child a gift and he shows his gratitude with thanks and kisses and the next time you see him, you’ll bring another toy. But if he is not grateful, you are not likely to bring a gift the next time you see him.

What are you grateful for today? List three things and tell me why.

What will you choose today?

China Beach

One of my favorite teachings from Helen Palmer is that “Energy follows attention!” Where we put our attention is where our energy goes. If we put our attention on relaxing, beneficial people, events and things, we will feel happy and have some inner peace.

If we put our attention on negative things, tension, worry, and discomfort follow. We go into the fight, flight or flee response, or just feel bad. “Energy flows where attention goes.”

Mindfulness Breaks™ generate the relaxation response so our energy flows in a positive direction. The Buddha called this “yoniso manasikara” or appropriate attention. This corresponds to a statement by Father Eli,

Happiness is a state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time. Notice that HAPPINESS IS NOT AN EMOTION – it is a state of mind.”
– Father Eli, The Second Book of Wisdom

I like the way Lissa Rankin, MD put it in her Inner Pilot Light email today:

Pay attention to things that raise your vibration and light me up.

Dance?
Nature?
Intimate conversations with trustworthy friends?
Certain kinds of music?
Veggies and green juice?
Gathering in spiritual community?
Snuggles?

Now pay attention to things that lower your vibration and dim me.

Road rage?
Gossip?
Board meetings?
Alcohol?
Cheetos?
Complaining?
Overtime?
Criticizing others?
Criticizing yourself?

What will you choose today? 

Ready for a bonfire,

Your Inner Pilot Light

I would add news channels, racism, and Trump to the list of things that lower your vibration. Just stop reading and watching the news for one week to see if you experience any relief of tension in your body. I know that when I used to pay attention to the jerks on commercial TV, I would get all anxious and I could feel it in my body. I stopped the news and I stopped the anxiety.

So what will it be? Happy, relaxed emotions like love and compassion? Or tense, conflicting emotions like anger, stress, hatred? The choice is up to you.

You might want to try my Stress Relief Mindfulness Break!

Stress Relief Mindfulness Break
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Happiness is the Normal State

One of the most memorable teachings of Father Eli is that, “Happiness is the normal state of a healthy, well-adjusted individual.” Another one of his interesting ideas about happiness is that “Happiness is a state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time.”

He says that happiness is not an emotion, but a state of mind. Emotions, come in two types: tense emotions and relaxed emotions. Tense emotions, like  anger, fear, frustration, worry. fear, anxiety, etc., give rise to the fight or flight response. Relaxed emotions, like love, pleasure, peace, joy, and so on, give rise to the relaxation response and give us a chance for happiness.

You see, the word, “happy” comes from the root-stem of “hop,” like a 7-year-old jumping up and down in the park on a sunny summer afternoon and like the girl in the above picture.

When you are happy all senses get better and internal organs like the glands and heart function better. Your memory works better, and you can get better grades or perform better at work. All the religions say that righteousness is obtained by happiness and cheerfulness.  Happiness is the method of obtaining personality and character perfection.

Some psychologists say the unhappiness is the sole cause of disease. So to stay healthy, “Don’t worry! Be Happy!”

Here are a few things you can do to promote happiness.

  1. Think of at least three events, people or things that you are grateful for each day. Gratitude practice is essential for happiness. Remember, “To desire what you don’t have is to waste what you do have!”
  2. Spend some time in nature every day and contemplate the wonders of life. Remember that “This life is the gift of the whole universe – the earth, the sky and many generations!”
  3. Learn to forgive yourself for those moments when you are tense and not happy. Also forgive everyone in your life that you can think.
  4. Perform a simple act of kindness for someone else each day to make someone happy or reduce their suffering.
  5. Sign up for a Mindfulness Break!

Can you think of more ways of producing happiness for yourself?