Gratitude is Way Underrated

posted in: Musings | 2
A few weeks ago, I was relaxing in a deliciously fragrant coconut milk bath, I had just taken a pause from the book I was reading when I was filled with a sudden feeling of immense gratitude for everything I have in my life. It felt so wonderful. This led me to thinking of the last time I felt randomly grateful for my life and I realised that it has been a long time! The last three years have not been easy to say the least, nothing bad has happened but it has been a long stretch of stressful situations which, I realise now, has led to a depletion of joy. I don't mean the kind of joy that you get fleetingly while doing/seeing something joyful but the kind that lingers and gives you a little spring in your step because you know life is generally good. How did I lose that feeling?
Rose and Coconut Gratitude Bath

The Last Three Years

Now don't get me wrong, I know life is full of ups and downs and you're never going to float around on a high all the time but it seemed to me that for a long time now, despite having all the ingredients for joy - I just haven't been feeling it.
So let's rewind three years, my husband and I weren't married yet but had decided that we would like to do so soon. My immediate family were dead set against it because of their own reasons which were basically based on fear and selfishness. I was ultimately forced to choose between my family and following my own life path, it wasn't an easy thing to go through!
Anyway, moving swiftly on, hubby and I started flat hunting so that we would have our own home to move into when we got married. We found a flat which was further away from London than we would have liked but it was within budget and most importantly, had the space we craved. We acted fast to get the ball rolling and were assured by the estate agent that everything would run smoothly and the sale would go through within three months, just in time for our wedding. As it turned out, the sale dragged on for six long months, which meant we had to put all our stuff in storage and move in with my mother in law just after the wedding. We also couldn't go on a honeymoon of any description, because we felt like we had to be on constant standby because the sale was going through 'any minute now'.

Our wedding rings

When we finally got the keys to our new flat, we couldn't believe how much work the place needed in order to make it livable! It took months and months of work and because we did most of it ourselves, it meant every evening and weekend for nearly 6 months was taken up with DIY. Six months of living out of boxes, eating takeaways, having no social life and no rest really does take it's toll on you emotionally and physically. We finally came to a stage where most of the major things were done, we had a working kitchen, all the repairs and painting was done and the carpets had been laid so we could finally start unpacking most of our stuff. I say 'most' because there are still parts of the flat that we haven't done yet so some stuff is still packed away nearly two years later!

The Kitchen 

 I had just removed 5 layers of flooring, the orange tiles were the second layer!

My husband's eccentric style of DIY

The living room

I was removing the awful stone fireplace that dominated the room

That's a brief recap of Life Drama year 1.
Now we get to year two.
You'd think after the emotional upheaval of being ostracised from my family, planning a wedding, buying a home, camping and living out of boxes in said home whilst decorating - life would finally settle down to normality and give us a chance to re-coup. Nope. Two things happened next, the first was my workplace decided to go through the worst restructure in living memory - seriously, people who have worked there for forty years said they had never seen anything like it. Drastic budget cuts meant drastic action and people were scared. So you can imagine, going to work every day meant that for a large part of my daily life, I was surrounded by a lot of negative energy. The second thing that happened to me that year was, I started a course which led me to a deeper level of spirituality and ultimately led to the birth of Awaken the Goddess.
In all honesty, the universe picked the worst time to tell me to create Awaken the Goddess. I needed to rest, I needed time to process and sit with the new spiritual experience I was having. I needed time to just sit back and enjoy life with my amazing husband. I needed time for me!  But the Divine Mother had other plans for me and so the planning, organising and heavy emotional rollercoaster of creating the festival and gathering a sisterhood began.
Anyway - let's get back to my bath -  I realised that all I ever did was focus on the negatives. Life is too busy, too much to do, didn't see my friends enough, commute to work is too long blah blah blah. There is was, reading a book in the bath, while the man I loved pottered around in the kitchen making my dinner. How lucky am I??
Yes, the last three years have been stressful. And yes, the next three years may well be stressful too because working full time while simultaneously organising Awaken the Goddess leaves me very little time to just kick back and relax but now I have reframed my situation with something as simple as gratitude. And.That.Changed.Everything

The Importance of Gratitude

Years ago, Oprah really pioneered the whole idea of a gratitude journal and the way gratitude can change your perspective on life. I love to write in a journal, for me, it's a great way of processing my thoughts and dealing with difficult times. So I'm no stranger to writing as a spiritual practice but I have tried keeping a gratitude journal and to be honest - it never really worked for me. The gratitude never reached me on a level that made any discernable difference. But I have tried something else which has worked and which I am very excited to share because every time I do this I feel filled up with light!

Gratitude Prayer

I learnt the concept of this gratitude prayer from Suzanne Corbie and I love it because it can fill you with good vibes even when you're not feeling all that thankful! So let's say you've had a really bad day and can't think of a single thing to be thankful for, start like this:
Thank you for my eyes, thank you for all the beauty I am able to see, thank you for the flowers I saw on my way to work this morning, thank you for my nose, thank you for the wonderful smells I can experience, thank you for my hands, thank you for all the things I am able to hold with my hands, thank you for the wonderful fluffy pillow on my sofa that I can stroke with my hands, thank you for the sofa I sit on, thank you for my home, thank you for giving me a roof over my head, thank you for the privacy and safety my home gives me, thank you for the friends and family that visit my home, thank you for all the people in my life who give me joy, thank you for keeping my loved ones safe.........
So the prayer is basically a stream of conscious articulation of what you have to be thankful for. It helps if you say the prayer out loud. Start small with something you take for granted, like one of your five senses and keep going, listing one thing after another until you can actually FEEL the gratitude in your heart and you notice the beaming smile that has appeared on your face while talking. Or, if you have something big to be thankful for that day, start there and see where it takes you.
I invite you to take a moment every day to remember everything you have to feel grateful for. Without gratitude, it's nearly impossible for us to fully open up to the great gifts and experiences the universe has in store for us.

Milky Bath Recipe

If you want to luxuriate in your own milky bath, try this:
  • 1 cup Himalayan or Epsom Salt
  • Half a cup of coconut milk
  • A few drops of essential oil, try rose and frankincense.
  • Fresh or dried rose petals (optional)
Coconut milk bath recipe

Start filling the tub with hot water, throw in the salt and coconut milk. When the bath is ready, add the essential oils and stir thoroughly to ensure the oils are fully dispersed. Add a sprinkle of fresh or dried rose petals for a little extra decadence. Immerse yourself in the water and relax by candlelight or enjoy a good book. Don't forget to have a tall glass of water on hand to keep yourself hydrated while you soak. If you have an exfoliating mitt, use it at the end of the bath, before you drain the water. Be careful while you're rinsing off and when you get out of the bath because the coconut milk will make the bath slippery - but it leaves your skin super soft and nourished 🙂

Enjoy

2 Responses

  1. jayne Laouami baigent

    I agree gratiude is so important. I now am livinng the “Reiki” way and being grateful for what we have and saying Thank you to mother Earth and God( in my mind) is a wonderfully uplifting feeling we all dwell on the negatives but the positives usually actually outweigh the negative ifonly we open our hearts ad minds to that.
    Thanks you fr sharing your story and I hope that the next 3 years are not as unstable!x Jayne

    • Awaken the Goddess

      That’s so true Jayne – the positives usually outweigh the negatives and I’m now realising that how you feel day to day is a conscious choice. I am opening my heart – as you say :))

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