Gratitude: Turning to the Unpleasant

Shadow

by Miranda Chapman

The practice of gratitude is powerful and can transform the lens through which I view the world and often I turn toward the pleasant rather than the unpleasant to focus my gaze.

Lately, I have been working with turning my gratitude toward the difficult, the challenging, the uncomfortable in my life:

I am grateful for the pain in my body which is a constant reminder of this vessel that carries me through each day, imperfectly but beautifully.

I am grateful for my addictions that demand I look at where I feel disconnected.

I am grateful for moments of total confusion as a reminder of how little is known to me or can ever be known.

I am grateful for incapacitating doubt because it is a guide into the self-imposed beliefs I carry that limit me and others.

I am grateful for conflicts internally and externally that continue to invite me to show up in kindness rather than to do harm to myself or others.

I am grateful for moments of total overwhelm that remind me to surrender the insatiable illusion of control.

I am grateful for procrastination since it helps me see the allure of resistance as well as to see what I am truly drawn towards.

I am grateful for fear as it demands I keep showing up unless I choose to give up.

As I turn toward the unpleasant I begin to honor my wholeness in a way that only shining light on the pleasant simply cannot. I begin to open more to the great wisdom that comes from difficulty and to the boundless lessons I can learn, if I am willing, from the inevitable obstacles of life.

Of course I am still grateful for all of the beauty and joy that surrounds me but that’s easy:  this — the turning toward the shadow — is where the wholeness resides.

Miranda Chapman is senior faculty and founding program director at Copper Beech Institute, the nation’s newest retreat center for mindfulness and contemplative practice. Copper Beech Institute offers more than 50 transformational programs to foster peace, resilience, and compassion in everyday life. For a listing of all the opportunities to learn from and practice with Miranda Chapman at Copper Beech Institute, click here.

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