Repentance reaches fullness when we are brought to gratitude for our mistakes. – Nana Veary*
In November we tend to hear a lot about gratitude due to the Thanksgiving holiday. As awareness of the power of gratitude has increased in recent years, we have begun to hear about it throughout the year as well. As far as I’m concerned, there is no doubt that an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is one of the single most powerful factors influencing our level of happiness and satisfaction with our lives. So the question is, how can we deepen our experience of gratitude, not only in November but in each moment?
In meditation recently, my guides showed me something surprising: that there is a strong connection between gratitude and forgiveness. They even suggested I write this piece exploring the idea that the amount of gratitude that we experience during the ‘season of thanks’ can be enhanced by welcoming the previous weeks as a ‘season of forgiveness.’ The more I thought about this, the more sense it made.
Why? There are several reasons. Perhaps the most important is that, when we dig down to the roots of why gratitude is so powerful, it has to do with what A Course in Miracles (ACIM) calls healing our perceptions. Because it is our perceptions that create our experience of reality, it is only by healing our perceptions that wholeness is restored in our lives and in the world. This means that at the deepest level, gratitude is simply the awareness of all that is good and right and beautiful in the world, of the uncountable blessings that make our lives possible every day. When we train ourselves to focus on these – when we fully heal our perceptions – then we experience feeling blessed no matter what is going on around us. This is perhaps easier said than done, but it is definitely possible!
So where does forgiveness come in? It has to do with what happens energetically when we forgive, which is that we let go of negativity that has been taking up space in our energy field. If you want a very simplified answer to the question of why our world is the way it is today, here you go: in the past couple of millenia or so, humans have forgotten how to release negativity as a daily practice, and there are some who would argue that to do so is impossible or even not desirable. We’ll get into the reasons for this in another post, but the upshot is that we tend to hang onto every emotion, belief or hurt simply because we don’t know how to let these things go, and after a while they begin to dominate our worldview.
Now, the beauty of our Spirit is always there within us, just waiting to be revealed and claimed by us. For it to become accessible though, we have to be willing to shift our focus from what’s wrong to what’s right. This is a gradual process, but the most direct route from here to there starts with forgiveness, followed by gratitude. Here is an example of what this can look like in practice:
Write a letter to someone you need to forgive, and either mail it or burn it (it will be equally effective either way). Then, journal about what you have learned from this experience, and what blessings in disguise it may have brought you.
When you really allow forgiveness in, you realize that every experience you have ever had has served a purpose, helping to bring you to this exact moment in your life. You can’t change the past, but you can choose how you relate to it now, and this is everything. When you choose to let go of the charge that the past holds for you through forgiveness, you will be amazed at the miracles that unfold in your life.
*In terms of the strength of transmission that it carries, Hawai’ian teacher Nana Veary’s simple book Change We Must is one of the most powerful spiritual books I have ever read. I discovered it while on vacation in Hawai’i years ago, and have returned to it ever since whenever I need to remember what’s really important or just need some inspiration. It is little known outside the islands but can be ordered online, and I highly recommend it. If you are familiar with it, I would love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments below. As a mother, wife, friend and teacher, she was a wonderful example of what it means to live “in the world but not of it” as a lover of Self, God and others.
Natalie Doel is a spiritual life coach, intuitive counselor, and writer in beautiful Sonoma County, California. She does her best to live each day in deep gratitude for life, and has found forgiveness to be a vital ally in that effort.