How to practise gratitude
Normally people need a special occasion to celebrate. We celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, a wedding, a victory, an award, a career promotion and so on and so forth. The experience of celebration is determined by a cause; it requires a pre-condition to manifest itself. In our modern world, we lost the ability to just celebrate and be happy for no reason at all. How sad that is!
The average mood in Western society is pretty miserable and if you are too happy, you are the weirdos. I personally have spent long periods in a miserable state of mind. And the negative mind is a very powerful self-reinforcing mechanism. The human mind seems to thrive in negativity, complain, judgment. A possible explanation comes from neuroscience. Neuroscientists ascribe the negative pattern of the mind to the alert system hardwired in our brain. Our ancestors could not relax too much, life was a constant threat and the fear signalling mechanism had to be always switched on. So it seems that we are biologically prone to pay attention to threats, to spotting danger, to always be on guard and expect the worst. This is a good example of maladaptation, which is no more needed. So how to reverse this negative trend? How to deactivate this hardwired mechanism?
Recently, within the biohacking movement and progressive health professionals (i.e. energy medicine and energy psychology), there have been lots of talks about gratitude. This is due to scientific research which shows the health benefits of feeling gratitude. For example, research by Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.
In my experience, for this to really work, the sense of gratitude needs to be sincere. Formal gratitude is good as far as it goes; it is helpful to temporarily shift the energy from negative to positive. However, what you really want is to feel gratitude arising from within. This means operating more through the heart and less through the mind. The mind complains, the heart celebrates. To me gratitude is a form of celebration: only in deep and sincere appreciation, it is possible to truly feel happy. It is very significant that the last stage of Dynamic Meditation is celebration. Osho wants us to share with deep gratitude whatever we experience in meditation.
“Celebrate and rejoice with music and dance, expressing your gratitude towards the whole. Carry your happiness with you throughout the day” - Osho.
One of Osho’s most fundamental tenets is celebration. Osho’s whole approach to life is to celebrate whatever there is and be happy for no reason at all. It is a powerful reminder that life as a whole is celebration: the birds are singing, the trees are dancing in the wind, the sun is shining. And through Osho Active Meditations, it is possible to access an inner state of contentment, which naturally results in being positive, relaxed, happy, grateful.
So start practising gratitude. Before going to sleep, think of three things you ae grateful for. And again first thing in the morning. I do this regularly and find it very helpful, especially in those days when stress takes over and the mind is pulled back to negative shores. However, the real fulfilment happens when gratitude arises from inside after deep meditation. This is pure celebration, which stems spontaneously and naturally from silence.