I tend to be a person who showers with cold water for at least a minute every day. Afterward, I feel very energized and at the same time refreshed and more relaxed. Needless to say, the moment when the cold water falls on my body is not entirely pleasant, and I honestly doubt it will ever be! However, that is not why I stop doing it, as I have realized that, in addition to the benefits I mentioned above, those cold baths allow me to appreciate the hot baths even more! And that's where the idea for today's post came from. I hope you enjoy it!
Gratitude is a state of reception, in which we open our hearts to receive something that generates well-being. Rejecting what we have or what is at the moment, on the other hand, tends to generate resistance and therefore suffering. Gratitude in the day-to-day, when done from the heart, releases hormones such as dopamine, which tend to counteract the cortisol generated when we are stressed or anxious. That is, it allows us to be more calm, connected and happy, and it serves as an antidote to stress.
Now let's talk about how duality can help promote the habit of gratitude. Duality is nothing more than a structuring of the mind to separate both sides of the same coin: good, bad, cold, hot, dark, enlightened, fat, skinny, etc., concepts that we need in our earthly reality to understand how it works. from our world, but from which we can consciously separate (at least for a few moments!) to focus and find sustainable inner peace. Without one of the faces, the coin ceases to exist, and thus we tend to stop appreciating the face to which we are accustomed. How can we use the concept of duality through gratitude to keep our hearts more open and lessen suffering? And how could we transcend duality to connect in an even deeper way with our being and facilitate a holistic level of gratitude and thus connect with our most divine part? Keep reading and you will find out!
Basically, I have come up with 3 levels of appreciation:
1. Practice gratitude through duality according to external situations:
Since I live in Germany, it is very easy for me to illustrate this concept with the weather. Where I live, especially in winter, days and even weeks can go by without the sun rising. Of course, in those moments, my mind could tend to criticize the weather, generating emotions of annoyance, anger or frustration (especially considering that I originally come from a country as warm as Nicaragua!). But if I apply gratitude along with duality, I might remember that if it weren't for those clouds blocking the sun, for that long darkness, and for the low temperature, I probably wouldn't appreciate hot days in the same way. If there was sun and heat every day of the year, it would stop being a luxury and would become the new norm: one more hot day, and nothing more. We can apply this to anything that tends to annoy us to give it a touch of positive perspective: this cold is an opportunity to be grateful for my moments of health; this injury is an opportunity to remember and be grateful that the rest of my body is fine; this workload is an opportunity to thank and appreciate my moments of tranquility or leisure; this boredom is an opportunity to be grateful for times of great workload; and this slightly stale meal you made is an excellent opportunity to thank your wife for her delicious dishes.
2. Practice gratitude through duality without expecting changes in outer situations:
This level is more advanced than the previous one because it puts gratitude in your hands at any time. Here it is not necessary for a situation like the one described above to come to us or to lose something to be grateful for what we have, since you can do it at any time using the magic of your mind. We can be grateful for the roof that protects us, remembering that many people do not have that roof. Or we can thank the bed in which we sleep, remembering that there are people sleeping on the street right now. That is, we can do it actively and internally, without waiting for things to happen to us. Doing this helps us stop taking what we have for granted, and thus recognize how blessed and fortunate we are!
3. Transcending gratitude through duality remembering that there is a greater and divine purpose in our lives:
This level is the most advanced and requires keeping our hearts open to remember that everything that happens, and everything that we have, is part of the divinity and perfection of the Whole of which we are a part and of which we can be grateful. Here, duality loses meaning, since things are neither good nor bad, converging in a Whole where their labels fall to simply Be. I insist here on keeping the heart open, since we have to bear in mind that the mind tends to be dualistic, being based on conditioned structures where we associate meaning to what we perceive, but the heart eliminates that duality and sees things simply as they are, without judgments or labels.
Thus, while we can use duality to open our hearts, we can transcend it and be grateful for the Whole, both ends of the spectrum and everything in between, since each situation gives us a richer experience in our journey as humans. The result can be a state of being of complete peace and tranquility, resulting from the confidence that everything happens just as it should and that life is perfect the way it is.
The three states of being that can be reached through gratitude can be more easily understood when they are felt from the heart, transcending the mental level. To do this, I want to leave you these exercises and explorations that you can do at any time:
1. For the first level: The next time you are taking a hot shower, which many of us are used to, turn the faucet to the cold water side for at least 15 seconds, taking a deep breath, and thanking that cold water, because without it, hot water would simply be the norm and at this level it can easily lose its value. Then turn the tap back to hot water, and you will see how much more you enjoy and appreciate it. You can carry that mindset both for anything you enjoy but see as "normal" in your life, and for things you don't enjoy as much.
2. For the second level: You can, in your mind's eye or in your meditation, be grateful for what you have, for example, good health, two eyes, two hands, a roof, resources, etc., imagining for a moment how if you didn't have it. You can, for example, scan your body and imagine for a moment that you lose that part, and then you are grateful that you have it. After finishing with your body, you can continue with your house, your family, your work, your possessions, etc. Then try to carry this state of being for the rest of your day.
3. For the third level: We can also in our meditation visualize how we are connected to everything, and how each thing simply is and is an expression of the creative force of Divinity. If we can open our hearts to levels one or two, and then quiet the mind completely to drop all the labels and feel that connection with the Whole, it will be easier to transcend duality and get to do this more transcendental practice.
If you want, you can journal your experience with these types of gratitude. You will see how you begin to change your perspective almost automatically, focusing on what helps you for your well-being and thus be happy and peaceful, and not on what makes you suffer, as many of us are used to.
I'm curious to know, how could you apply these principles at each level for your particular situation? What has been your experience with the exercises? I invite you to send me your comments or experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org. See you soon!