The Beauty of Giving Thanks
by Nirmala Raniga, Founder and Director
“Gratitude is a state of being in which we feel connected to everything in the universe. It is a fullness of the heart that recognizes the blessings of Nature within and without. Gratitude is love for the goodness of life itself.” – Deepak Chopra, M.D.
In many cultures worldwide, the harvest season is a traditional time of year when families and communities gather to celebrate the abundance of nature and give thanks for all that nourishes and sustains life. Celebrating gratitude is an important way to bring awareness to the gifts and blessings that we receive from the universe and share that thankfulness with those we love.
Not only does this time of Thanksgiving offer us an opportunity to express gratitude, but it is also enables us to create space in our lives to stop and reflect on our own hard work, recognize what we have accomplished, and share the gifts we have received with others.
In Dr. Chopra’s best-selling book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he encourages us to practice the universal Law of Giving and Receiving by giving gifts to others, expressing appreciation for all that we have, and acknowledging the dynamic exchange of everything in the universe. Through practicing this Law, we come to understand that giving and receiving are merely two aspects of the same energy. Therefore, if we are willing to share what we ourselves are seeking, then abundance will continue to circulate throughout the entire universe. The Law of Giving and Receiving not only means being generous with everyone around us, but also that we take great care with our own bodies, true expressions of the divine. It is important, then, that we provide ourselves with the nourishment we need to benefit mind, body, and spirit in order to live the richest, fullest lives possible.
Thanksgiving has a beautiful way of bringing people together no matter how long they’ve been apart. Although such an opportunity is usually cause for celebration, the way we relate to the people around us on this holiday can also lead to stress. For mental balance, we need to develop strategies to cope with everything our families bring to the table.
The universal Law of Detachment teaches us that we must accept uncertainty and be free from past conditioning. When we project what may happen during Thanksgiving based on behaviors we have observed in the past, we are not truly living in the present moment. When familiar patterns of behavior start to arise, however, it is important to keep in mind that it may not be in our power to change these idiosyncrasies. Therefore, finding respectful ways to remove ourselves from events or conversations that cause stress and pain is pivotal in preserving mental health. We can also be grateful for all our loved ones do for us and remind ourselves why we love them in spite of the stress they cause. By creating ways to coexist with those who cause us stress, we can begin to forge more fulfilling relationships with them, making for a happier state of mind and happier holidays.
Loss is a part of life and, although we understand that those who have passed on are at peace, we may still have a difficult time adjusting to life after losing people we love. This experience can be especially true during Thanksgiving. The sight of an empty chair once occupied by a beloved family member can be devastating. Hosting a holiday gathering during such trying times can be even more stressful, so it is important to remember to take care of our mental and physical health. As a host, one may feel the need to put on a brave face and try to be the stabilizing force for the family. However, in the process of moving on after loss, it is very healthy to allow yourself and others to grieve. By talking about the person who has passed on, we can express our true feelings rather than suppress them. We must remember that healing takes time and sadness after loss is natural. However, by giving thanks for the life our loved ones led, we can celebrate their memories with gratitude.
When we step out of the busy activity of our daily lives and express our gratitude for all that we have, we appreciate our experiences and root ourselves in the present moment. Gathering to give thanks with loved ones at Thanksgiving, we share in the joys and sorrows of the past seasons and bring our awareness to where we are now. This state of gratitude allows us to recognize the people, situations, and things that are important to us, as well as the challenges that have helped us grow. By finding what we are thankful for in every facet of our lives without judgment, we can come to a greater place of self-understanding and remember that life is truly a gift.
Wishing you and your family a safe, healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.
Paradise Valley Healing Center, located in beautiful Squamish, BC Canada, specializes in treating a broad range of addictive behaviours and psychological trauma. Learn more about the programs we offer.