The Beauty of Gratitude
There is a magical moment in the ritual of Thanksgiving when we express appreciation for our blessings. Embracing gratefulness─allowing the sensation of gratitude to wash over us─can induce feelings of calm, love, warmth, happiness, stability and splendor. It changes who we are.
The practice of gratitude converts to a cellular, physiological, biochemical, and neurological experience. Exercised on a regular basis, gratitude has a positive impact on our emotions, personality, physical health, career, and social life.
Gratitude brings harmony to the countless cells and microorganisms that make up our body and function in exquisite synchronicity to maintain our health. It leads to grace─the grace that enables us to take on the stewardship of all that surrounds us. It opens our eyes and helps us see the beauty present everywhere, in every moment and circumstance.
The shamanic traditions of the ancient Earthkeepers─the aboriginal societies of this world─were founded on the practice of immense gratitude. It permeated their lives and fueled their daily activities. It linked them to the Ancient Ones, to Mother Earth, Father Sun, Grandmother Moon, to the vast Cosmos, and above all the Great Spirit. Gratitude allowed them to see beauty as they toiled, survived, and evolved.
The world will always mirror back to us what we are at any given moment. If we are immersed in gratitude, beauty, and peace, our world will reflect that. This is how we dream a new and better world into being.
But how do we express gratitude when we feel awful, when we are in pain, anger, or despair?
We bring our hands together, bow our heads, and address whatever it is that we identify as the Source, saying "Thank you for this moment ... for this breath ... for this beating heart..." We find something to be thankful for─a loyal pet, a kind friend, a drop of water. The moment you find something to be thankful for, a blotch of color begins to take over the landscape.
Don't make your practice of thankfulness dependent on your moodwhen you feel like giving thanks. Do it when times are tough. It may take a while to cultivate─there is a reason it is called a "practice."
Gratitude, the feeling that we're blessed, helps us to stop being enslaved to our to-do lists and remember why we came here: To love, to learn, to grow, to discover what we can do to participate in the unfolding work of art called creation.

It also reminds us of what we most value, and inspires us to stop procrastinating, awaken from the nightmare of frenetic but meaningless activity, and start truly living the way we want to live, with boldness and originality.
As we bring our hands together this Thanksgiving Day, may we all come together with Spirit to create a more beautiful and joyful world.
In Munay,

Alberto Villoldo, PhD

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