By Christine Kane
This is part 6 of a multi-part series on money, prosperity, clarity, and anything else that came up as I wrote it.
A few years ago, I went to Peru. In the middle of the two-week tour, I got sick. I mean really sick. I was on an island in Lake Titicaca. There was no running water. There was no electrical power. At 2 am, I lay shivering in my bed, listening to the pounding rain and bargaining with myself to please not have to get sick again because that would mean going outside in the freezing cold rain.
What I’ve noticed about food poisoning is that food poisoning never says, “Well, okay, since you put it that way…”
So, I got the flashlight and stumbled out into the pouring rain through a herd of goats, all of whom then followed me to my destination – a hole in the ground with three plywood walls around it. There I was, getting soaked and frozen in the rain, on my hands and knees in mud, with goats nuzzling at me and bleating in my ear while I sobbed and puked and sobbed and you know all the other details. The rain was pelting me. The smells of the outhouse were making me even more violently ill. And then, I paused and panted, wondering if there was more. At that moment — as if it couldn’t get any worse — my flashlight went out.
I was still hunched down on the ground staring in disbelief at the darkness that had once been my flashlight when an angel appeared before me. Well, no. It wasn’t actually an angel. It was my own smart-ass observer self. She was standing way outside of the drama, the goats, the rain, and the fact that I had to walk 200 yards in the pitch black to get back to my cold bed. She assessed the situation, put her chin in her hand and said, “Hmm. Well, this is definitely the low point of your life. Wanna hear some good news? I think — and I might be wrong here — but I think it can only get better from this moment.”
Typically when I’ve returned to America after visiting other countries, I spend several days feeling shell-shocked and angry at all we take for granted. On this return trip, I got to the Charlotte airport, walked into the restroom, turned on the hot water, put my hands under it and was swept over by the most intense feeling of gratitude I had ever felt. I stood there smiling. I wanted to say to each woman at the row of sinks, “Look! Hot water! And no goats!” After I was grateful for the hot water, I was grateful for gratitude.
Start a Gratitude Journal
That year I started a nightly routine that has since evolved into a deeper practice. I started a gratitude journal. I can easily blow through a day without ever looking around to see how full my life is, and I just got tired of being tired and cynical. So, I sat down each night with a beautiful hand-made journal and wrote down five things for which I was grateful. It may sound like a pretty mechanical way of approaching something we should all already feel. But it wasn’t. It was a profound ritual that closed each day. And besides, many of us forget gratitude. In our quests to be better, or more successful, or more organized, or better artists, teachers, spouses, we get stuck in the energy of more, and forget the gifts of now.
I don’t care if you are a hardened cynic, entrepreneur, techie nerd, or froo-froo floaty vegan meditating skateboarder, practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to open up to abundance and prosperity. Gratitude is saying yes. And yes opens us up. It makes us more receptive. We say, “I already have these gifts.” Then we keep attracting gifts because all of our power is saying yes.
Writing in a gratitude journal made me more receptive. It was as if more was given so I would have stuff to write that night. The flash of a goldfinch in my yard. The funny dance my dog does (she hops up and down on her front paws) when I’m getting ready to feed her. Someone stopping me in the grocery store to tell me my music had helped her through a divorce. Each time something would happen during the day, my inner voice would say, “There’s one for the journal!” Some nights I was grumpy, and it was a chore to come up with five things. Some nights I was so present, I wrote ten things.
If you are having money issues or going through transition or grief, or if you just want more of whatever in your life, then get a journal and use it each night before you go to bed. Make a list of five or ten things for which you are grateful. Acknowledge how amazing your world is. It will change you. It will make you wealthy, mostly because you already are.
The Next Phase – Gratitudeness
Gratitude started out as a list. It was work for a long time. I had to teach my driven bitchy self to open up to it. Mostly, this activity was mental. I was thinking about gratitude.
These days I try to go beyond thinking about gratitude to letting it be alive in me. I practice living in an awareness of gratitude from the minute I wake up.
I call this Gratitudeness — being in a state of gratitude, as opposed to thinking about things for which I’m grateful.
I was inspired to do this after reading Eckhart Tolle’s new book A New Earth. This may be the best book I’ve ever read. I like it even better than his first book, The Power of Now.
Eckhart Tolle writes about the power of being present to this moment. Being here now. In one section he gives basic instructions for beginning to be present. He tells us to close our eyes and feel our hands. Not think about our hands, but feel them.
Here’s how I do this: I imagine the Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak. I pretend I’ve put it on. Now, if you were invisible, how would you know your hand existed? This is the beginning of being present in your body. As you feel your hands, imagine that this is “hand-ness” — knowing what your hands feel like even if you’re invisible. Once you get that idea, start working at it with your heart. (I call this heartness.) After that, try to shift the same idea into feelings, like love. (Loveness.) Or gratitude. Like this:
1. Sit quietly, close your eyes and breathe.
2. Bring into your mind something for which you are profoundly grateful. (If I’m in a bad place and can’t think of anything, my cats or dog always do the trick.)
3. That feeling, that smile that arises in you. That’s the feeling of gratitude. Let it build up. 4. Observe that feeling as an entity unto itself. Or, take you out of the picture. Put on the invisibility cloak. And let the feeling of gratitude become all that’s left of you.
5. Try to hold that energy and keep practicing it.
The idea of practicing gratitude is so common – from spiritual writings to success gurus – that it’s easy to take the attitude of “Yea, yea, yea. Be grateful. Got it. Next?”
Truth is simple. And we want to make it complicated. In A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle writes, “You don’t need to own anything to feel abundant, although if you feel abundant consistently things will almost certainly come to you. Abundance comes only to those who already have it. It sounds almost unfair, but of course it isn’t. It is a universal law. Both abundance and scarcity are inner states that manifest as your reality.”
It might not be easy. But it is pretty simple.