"For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes." - Dag Hammarskjold

Sunday, December 8, 2013

celebrating lives greatly full :: shulamit day berlevtov

I first met Shulamit Berlevtov several years ago through mutual friends.  From the beginning, I knew she was a seeker and a healer - someone who wasn't afraid to do the work set before her on her spiritual path, and willing to share her experience with others.  She continues to carve her place in this world through her counseling services. She works as a psychotherapist in private practice who offers classes and one-to-one sessions in person in the Kemptville and Smiths Falls area.  Interestingly, she’ll be facilitating Explorations in Gratitude starting January 2014.   

Although we do not see each other often, we keep abreast of each other's lives through the magic of social media.  I am so pleased she agreed to share her most recent intentional practice: gratitude.  I am grateful for YOU Shula! 

What am I grateful for?
I am grateful for formal gratitude practice.

I post a statement about what I am grateful for to my Facebook status every night before bed. I remember the times when I had tried gratitude in the past. When I was feeling low, I’d make a list of “good” things in my life, things for which I should be grateful, and then I’d tell myself, “Look, you should be grateful!” and then berate myself for not feeling any better.
My current approach started when I was having trouble sleeping. I'd seen this infographic and thought I’d experiment to see if gratitude practice before bed would help my sleep. I started by finding one thing each day that had made me smile. I’d recall what happened and smile. Then I’d pay attention to the feel of the smile, and to what other body sensations came along with smiling and the memory of the event. I’d sit with that for a while, savouring the sensations and resting in the memory. Then I would convey the experience by writing down a gratitude statement.

After some time practicing, as the hours move toward bedtime, thoughts of gratitude have started coming on their own. Sometimes they show up at random during the day. Feelings and sensations come with them that make the experience more vivid. When something happens in the moment and I’m grateful for it, the sense of it comes more fully.
Now that I’m awake to all that, spontaneous expressions of gratitude arise for me to share with people in the moment. The quality of my days and of my experience of living have changed. More joy, pleasure, ease and appreciation flow through me, even in the midst of difficult happenings. I feel low less often, and when I do, I can pause, place a gentle hand on my heart, and feel grateful for the ability to do just that. After all, that’s what I need when I’m feeling low! (I have yet to see an effect on my sleep, but at this point, who cares??!!)

Expressing gratitude directly to someone about something they have done is easy for me. I'm giving them feedback about how they have contributed to making life more wonderful for me. The effect my gratitude practice has had on others surprised me. I started doing it via social media because I wanted accountability. But what I offered to myself has become a giving. I still feel shy about acknowledging that. Accepting that this thing I do for myself is of benefit to others is the next frontier of my practice. I’m sitting with the shyness, and grateful for it.

1 comment:

  1. Comment from Tunde Nemeth (posted by jag due to technical difficulties :-))

    Fascinating to hear about your process, Shulamit. Thank you so much for
    sharing. Reading about your process made me smile tonight, and I'm grateful
    for that -- both for the smile itself and for the insight that a clue to
    what you're really feeling grateful for is whatever made you smile. I'm particularly interested in how different it is this time from other times
    you've done a similar practice. It seems your process is so grounded in
    body awareness, in contrast to that "should" you were giving yourself in
    the past. No more self-beratement is something to celebrate!

    As you know, I'm one of the people you inspired with your gratitude
    practice, and I finally also started my own gratitude practice on social
    media. At the risk of escalating the shyness you're already experiencing, I
    have to tell you, I'm grateful for your practice. In fact, I'm also seeing
    a ripple effect. From the comments on my posts, I'm seeing that my practice which was inspired by your practice is also having an effect on others.

    I was also very interested in your comments about how your practice
    enriches your life. I too am beginning to experience this richness. I'm
    finding myself constantly on the lookout for what I'm feeling grateful for
    right now ... and lo and behold, things keep popping up, more all the time.
    And I'm finding myself calmer, gentler, generally better.

    It's all pretty amazing to watch.