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This book offers a series of gratitude reflections and mindful meditation practices. Through slowly and carefully following the guided practices presented, we will come to enjoy all the benefits of having this uplifted mental attitude within our own experience. Each section encourages a positive motivation to seize every moment of this short, precious life.
The great Tibetan meditator, Geshe Chekhawa, from the twelfth century, was renowned for having a peaceful smile on his face; he proclaimed in his text, Training the Mind in Seven Points.
“Always rely upon a happy mind alone.”
Wise advice, which, if practised in today’s busy, distracted world, will have transformative consequences. Reflect on any circumstance you are currently experiencing and consider: Would this feel, appear, seem different, if filtered through a happy mind?
The happy mind we are referring to in this context is a state of mind influenced by gratitude and emotional intelligence; a mind that is stable, resilient, peaceful, and uplifted. When we are influenced by the mind of gratitude, we can find mental solutions to the issues and challenges that arise in our daily life. We can learn how to transform our inner conversation and uplift our mind in any situation.
What interested me when I first learned this practice was that I could ‘train’ in the process of developing a grateful mind. Having a happy mind of gratitude didn’t depend on the quality of my external situation.
With care, attention, and skill, we can train to nurture and grow the experience of gratitude inside of us. Even without training, gratitude arises naturally within. When someone shows us kindness, we say ‘thank you’. We express our gratitude. With practise we can encourage this mind to arise more frequently. We can learn to shine the light of gratitude on our everyday life. The more we can cultivate this skill the richer our experience of each moment will be.
In the same way that we can train the body to become strong, fit and healthy, so can we train our mind. A strong mind comes from having a positive mental attitude, and gratitude is the foundation for all positive attitudes.
This grateful attitude doesn’t necessarily need to display itself externally. It is a peaceful, humble, balanced mind that acknowledges the great fortune we experience in our life, and the kindness that we receive from others. It may lead to a self-confidence that we choose to express to the world, or it may empower us to quietly work on behalf of the welfare of others.
Our mind naturally follows habits, and it is easy to drift into auto-pilot where we can take the abundance in our life for granted. Gratitude becomes like our best friend, helping us to wake fully to each moment of good fortune in our life. Developing this mental skill is like acquiring a refresh button which we can press whenever we choose, guiding us to look at our world through a clear, positive lens.
When we train in mindful meditation, the starting point for cultivating positive mental attitudes is encouraging our mind to see the world through the eyes of gratitude and appreciation. Training in gratitude uplifts and directs our mind toward an experience of happiness. Gratitude naturally arises if we can take all the opportunities presented each day to live in the moment and are mindful of each of our experiences.
Through following the instructions and practices contained within these eight chapters, we will learn, step-by-step, how to develop and mindfully cultivate this positive mental attitude, so we can feel empowered in every part of our life. Through reading and engaging with the content, we will eventually be able to cultivate the mind of gratitude in all circumstances, regardless of our external situation.
If we are focused and determined, anything is possible. Bringing an experience of gratitude into the centre of our life will help to enrich our everyday experience, and uplift our mind, while being grounded in the present moment.
Each of the eight chapters within this book presents a new theme with seven separate practices to enjoy each day, over two months.
For the adventurous, follow the book as an eight-week course and experience all the benefits. Alternatively, read in one’s own time, pick and mix, while receiving daily inspiration. At the end of each day, there is the suggestion to write down our thoughts and engage with the suggested exercises to empower our further engagement with the content.
An important part of this book is the Notes and Discussion section at the end of each practice. This helps us to engage with the content in a more proactive way. Discuss with a friend, discuss online, and/or write some thoughts down in your notebook about the questions asked.
In addition, a helpful practise while working through this book is to write down five gratitudes from the day. This writing exercise is a powerful method that can help us review our day with a positive, uplifted attitude and fall asleep with a peaceful, grateful mind.
Connecting with this reflection at the end of each day allows us to become influenced by positivity, thus affecting the mind that we have when we fall asleep, the states of mind that we have when we are dreaming, and also the quality of the mind we possess when we wake. Try to make the intention while you are reading this text to engage with this exercise. When I first delivered this course over an eight-week period, the participants found this particularly helpful.
I give an example below of five things at the end of the day we could feel grateful for, to provide an insight into the type of content that we could write:
1) I had the time and freedom in my life to be able to spend quality time this morning in peaceful meditation.
2) I was able to enjoy a healthy brunch and have this nourishing food sustain me throughout the day.
3) I had physical health in my body which allowed me to cycle to the train station through a nature reserve and enjoy this beautiful natural habitat.
4) I was able to slow down and notice the small buds of rose flowers that had appeared in my garden.
5) I was able to cast my vote at the election, due to being born and living in a democratic country.
The cornerstone for gaining the most from this book is taking time each day for quiet reflection. Reflection on gratitude helps to identify this precious mind and encourage its growth and development. Through integrating our experience from quiet reflection into our daily life, we become fluent with this positive mental attitude and acquire confidence and power to effect authentic change.
In Chapter One, we explore the process of how to reflect on gratitude and cultivate the strength of mind and intention to carry our experience. The key to making progress while reading this book is to connect each day with the content, mixing our mind with the practices in both a formal and informal manner.
Just a short practice, even for a few minutes, will help us move forward. Making progress with and cultivating gratitude will bring happiness into our mind, regardless of our circumstances.
All we need is around ten to fifteen minutes each day, maybe some days maybe less, some days a little bit more. Over the weeks and months, you will start to gain experience.
The content of this book may be entirely new, or we may have some experience; either way, try to approach the training with a beginner’s mind, keeping a fresh, open attitude.
The simple act of gently reading each page will support you in feeling uplifted and hopeful with life, and confident with who you are in this ever-changing world.
When you see this sign, + , it is an indication for you to take your time, read, reflect slowly, and meditate. A further +, marks the end of the meditation section.
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