by Jackie Woods
I grew up in a very religious family. So of course, a blessing was said before every meal. I agree now, and did then, that having gratitude for one’s food is a very good thing. Plus, I loved and love the ritual of letting my heart sing with a resonance between food, health, and gratitude.
However, I frequently didn’t feel a heartful resonance between my gratitude and those saying the words of blessing. In fact, I frequently felt that my gratitude was being covered up by their words. So I decided to block out tradition, since it was hit or miss, and instead do my own thing.
My own thing was to bow my head, breathe into my spiritual heart, and feel what I was most grateful for at that time. I added my gratitude for the food to other areas where I had gratitude. I then did a heart search around the table for more gratitude. It was my understanding that God was always welcome in a grateful heart. So expanding gratitude in my heart was the goal.
While my method could block out almost anyone’s lack of gratitude, there was one relative who asked God to bless every leader in every country as well as a long list of other folks. (Thankfully, he would add a word of gratitude for the food at the end of his discourse.) He was so loud and so long that it was impossible for me to block him out. I didn’t find him to be the least bit grateful—only pompous. But as an adult I can see that I let my judgment of his pompousness keep me from blessing my food with gratitude.
I was only a child when this awareness of gratitude expansion hit, but I have continued to use the same method throughout my life. Gratitude expansion is useful not only with food but in many other areas of my life. For instance, when someone shares honestly, I am grateful. I may not be grateful for their subject matter, but I am grateful for their honesty. So instead of arguing or fixing the parts I don’t like, I try to feel gratitude for their honesty and then think back to where else I have encountered honesty, so gratitude can expand my heart.
My childlike way of discovering gratitude expansion has served me well for many years. It opens up my heart and allows me to see things differently. Of course, it doesn’t always keep the judgmental thoughts and the emotional upsets at bay. But it is still a good tool for staying heart centered. Try it and see.