Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
  AHYMSIN Newsletter, Issue - Oct/Nov 2012  

With Gratitude

by Daniel Hertz

Gratitude. It is a magical, life changing word. It is only one word, but it is so powerful. Learning to live life with an attitude of gratitude is a simple, natural and easy way to bring an immediate positive change into your life.  It is the key to opening the door to the seemingly elusive world of joyful living. Everyone would like to bring more joy into their life.  Cultivating more gratitude is a clear path to unlocking this state of mind.  Bringing gratitude to one’s heart and prayers can immediately make life more positive.     It means learning to give thanks for what we have.  During especially challenging times it can seem very difficult to do this, but the key is shifting the mind to see things in a little different way.  With practice it becomes easier.

Lately, at the end of my Meditation practice, I have started to give thanks for whatever comes to mind. A common theme has been thanking my parents for everything they gave me.   Both of my parents have been deceased for many years.  But as time goes on and I move through the aging spectrum (I am now 55 years old), the perspective I have towards them has changed. It has allowed me to see how they set me up for a nice life through their care and love as I was growing up.  Besides the love and care they gave me, I received sufficient experiences and education to allow me to pursue whatever I needed to do in this life.  I know they went to great sacrifice to raise me and I feel directly grateful to them for all that they did.   At the end of my meditation I have started a ritual of giving thanks to them for everything that they did for me and I feel great when I do it.

I also give thanks for anything else that comes into my mind.  A recent thought that came into my mind is being thankful for having a meaningful job which allows me to live a comfortable life with the resources I need. For many years I struggled with learning to have a loving attitude toward work. Now I am just starting to realize it is a privilege to go into work every day. Retirement from the job is still probably a few years away, but as it gets closer I can put the work portion of my life in a new and better understood perspective.  Having the opportunity to contribute to the world in a positive way through work is a gift to be cherished.

Often I find myself giving thanks for being born in a time and place that is peaceful, has clean air, clean water, and enough leisure time for spiritual practices like Yoga and Meditation.  It is so easy to take this for granted when we live in a place like this day after day and year after year. But how often in history have humans had the opportunity to live this kind of life?  I have had fantastic teachers and the time and resources to practice.  I don’t know if I am learning as much as I could with this opportunity, but I am grateful for being given that chance.

One thing I love to be thankful for is when I arrive home safely after going out into the world. Whether I drive, walk, or bike somewhere, I am so thankful to arrive home.  It is a great feeling and I love to give thanks for it.  Since I started acknowledging with gratitude this act of arriving home, it has now become a highlight of my day. I simply love to give thanks for this and feel great when I do it.

I don’t know why or how this new found attitude of gratitude came to me, but I am grateful for it. It has brought more joy into my life.  I did notice that I started giving more thanks at the end of my meditations at about the same time that Vimala, a friend from the Meditation Center in Minneapolis, went into a hospice situation.  While visiting with her recently I told her about the topic of this essay.  She said to put this in the essay: “Gratitude is a Game-Changer.”   Thank you, Vimala, for that.  It was clear that moving to an attitude of gratitude allowed her to shift from fear and resentment about her illness to peace, contentment, and acceptance.  I had the privilege of spending time with her as the health of her body declined over time.  Her spirit remained high, but I watched her breathing become more and more labored.  It reminded me of how every smooth flowing breath I have is a healing gift of relaxation and rejuvenation.   As I watched her become more homebound and more dependent on others for the basic needs, it reminded me of how nice and pleasant we have it when we are in good health.  She passed away during the process of writing this essay, on October 12, 2012.  Her passing caused me to again come face to face with the fact that someday I will eventually move on from this physical plane.  Observing her reminded me again about how precious and short is our limited time on the planet.

Since starting this practice of gratitude, when I finish my twice-daily Meditation practice, many thoughts come into my mind about the various things I have to be thankful for.  These thoughts come naturally and without effort, and I am grateful that they do.  I have not listed all the things that I am grateful for in this short essay. The list is endless and keeps growing.  One thing I want to be sure and mention is my gratitude about having a loving and supportive wife.   But no matter what situation in life we find ourselves in, single or married, poor or rich, healthy or not, with or without a job, there is always something to be grateful about.  Since I have started the practice of cultivating gratitude I have become a more positive and joyful person.  I know I have a long way to go, but I wanted to share this helpful practice and am grateful to the AHYMSIN Newsletter for allowing me to do it.


Editor’s Note:

Daniel Hertz (RYT 500 and Certified Biofeedback Practitioner) lives in Minneapolis and is on the faculty of the Minneapolis Meditation Center. He is the author of Swami Hari: I am a simple forest monk. It is available on Amazon .com and several other online sites. In India Swami Hari: I am a simple forest monk is available at the Swami Rama and SRSG Ashrams in Rishikesh, HIHT in Jolly Grant, and SRIVERM in Malethi.
Daniel has previously written these articles for the AHYMSIN Newsletter (to read, click on title):

  • From Simple Forest Monk to World Traveler (about Swami Hariharananda Bharati)
  • Biofeedback and Beyond
  • To Be Born
  • He was inspired to write this essay in gratitude for the upcoming 20th anniversary of the first day he came to the Minneapolis Meditation Center (May 15, 1993).