If you are anything like me, you spend a certain amount of time thinking about what you want to create in your life. Coaches often talk about the importance of goal setting, and this is something I have seen really work.
I keep a running list of the things and situations I want to create in my life, and this has proven to be much more powerful than privately wishing or dreaming. There are many reasons why this works, one of them is that writing things down trains your unconscious mind to think in that direction and take actions that move you in the direction of your goals.
But one thing that I have found recently is that, when I get too fixed on focusing on what I want to create in the future, I stop being able to stay present in the now.
Why is that such a problem?
Think about it – the only time you can actually enjoy the fruits, the fulfillment, of what you have asked and prayed for, is right now. In the moment.
Even if your wish has not manifested yet, when it does, you will be living in what will feel, by that time, like the present moment. The now. And if you miss it, you’re missing the very moment that you asked for.
It’s like buying a ticket for a show and then talking all the way through. Or worse, texting.
Imagine. You have been asking for a baby for years, and then the baby is here. A few years later you are putting your child to bed and all you can think of is the bills. You are missing, in that very moment, the wispiness of hair, the soft breath, the heavenly gift that you have been asking for, for so long.
Why is it that we quickly begin to take things for granted?
We don’t have to. We can train ourselves to be gratitude-oriented, and to look for things to be grateful for in every moment.
Then, life really begins to change. You realize that what you have now is better than what you had five years ago, in some way. You are stronger, more clear, closer to your goals. From this you can build faith that the mountain you are gazing up at now, longingly, will one day be your vantage point.
Let me give you two practices to build this muscle of receiving.
#1) This Practice Will Change Your Life
Practice by waking up and listing ten things you are grateful for, every morning. And before you go to bed at night, ten more things. They can be the same ten things over and over, the key is that every time you write, feel your gratitude for each of those things in your body.
It can’t just be intellectual, like a mental acknowledgement that these things exist, although that can be a place to start. Ultimately, the gratitude has to come from deep within, it has to be real. It has to be felt. It can be as simple as feeling grateful for the warmth in your home, that another day has dawned, the smell of coffee from the other room, the fabric of your shirt against your skin.
You can reframe something you normally would not feel gratitude for, into something you feel immense and surprising gratitude for. Such as, “I am grateful that I get to do my work.” Thereby you focus not on the fruits of your labor, but on the privilege of serving your world in some way, and your brain starts to change. It’s a win/win, because while the fruits of labor may change, the quality of attention you put in to your work is all up to you, and if that is the source of your fulfillment and gratitude, you are guaranteed fulfillment as long as you put in the effort.
#2) This Practice Will Change Your Life Forever
The second practice is often known as meditation, though that word can be daunting.
When I say meditation, I just mean sitting quietly, for 5 or 10 minutes a day to start, and letting your mind rest on your breath. The mind is such that it always needs something to follow, whether its a task to focus on or an experience to track. In this case, sit comfortably, quietly, and in an upright position with your legs either crossed (if on a cushion or folded blankets) or separated with your feet on the floor (if sitting in a chair). Your hands can rest on your thighs.
With a soft gaze, look two or three feet out in front of you and slightly down toward the floor. This closely pulled-in gaze helps to keep the mind resting on the breath. As you start to feel more calm and centered, and able to keep the brain less active, you can slowly raise your gaze until you are looking straight ahead – still with a soft gaze – and keep the focus on the breath.
This simple sitting and breathing practice will help you to build the ability to be content in the present moment, without having to run off into the past or future with your mind. Believe me – this feels incredible!
The Truth Is
Many of us can learn pretty quickly and easily how to ask for what we want, if we don’t know how to already. It’s the receiving part we need to work on. Receiving just means accepting, noticing, and as a result feeling gratitude. And just like another person, the universe rejoices in receiving your gratitude.
Try these practices – Morning and Evening Gratitude Practice and a simple, breath-based Meditation – and watch the quality of your experience and your relationship to life change, become more fluid, joyful, and vital.
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