Note: This post was originally written in November of 2020
I have a lot of trouble feeling grateful sometimes. I know it’s good for me. I know it can make me happier. And, I know, as a Tantrika, gratitude is an important part of living in Tantra. But, sometimes, I just can’t find it.
Gratitude practices are nothing new. One of the oldest thank you letters ever written is 1,400 years old, from the book of 2 Samuel in the Old Testament, “Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name” (KJV). Two hundred years later, the first formal thanksgiving ceremony was held by the Wamponoag natives and the Plymouth settlement pilgrims, and the tradition continues to this day. A quick internet search on the health benefits of gratitude yields almost sixty million results, so it’s not like there’s any debate that gratitude is ancient, popular, and good for you.
So why can’t I do it?
A woman’s circle I used to belong to had the practice of GratiTuesday, where we would share our top ten lists of everything we were grateful for. I would make my list faithfully every week, but something just wasn’t quite right. The practice felt all right, I guess, but, honestly there was a little “yeah, but” at the end of each item.
I’m thankful for this quiet time to write this blog, yeah, but not for the two damn houseflies who keep trying to land on my plate of undercooked eggplant lasagna.
I’m thankful for my little boy snuggling with me at night, yeah, but not that he still fucking argues with me when I ask him to fill out his homework planner for the week.
I’m thankful for the beautiful Halloween blue moon, yeah, but not that my boys’ best friend–who was supposed to come trick-or-treating with us–couldn’t make it because his dysfunctional family was having issues.
The practice just felt a little plastic to me, I suppose. I was listing the things I was supposed to be thankful for, and was thankful for, yeah, but…
And then I stumbled onto something during an erotic meditation that changed all that for me. If you’re not familiar with erotic meditation, it’s the Tantric practice of circulating sexual energy through your body for healing, nourishment, and revitalization. It uses rich imagery and breath work. In my meditation, I was envisioning my Divine Lover pouring out such unconditional love on my darkness that nothing I offered received anything but exquisite love. Without thinking, this feeling of gratitude came over me. No yeah-buts, just pure thankfulness. What happened next surprised me–just when I thought I couldn’t feel more loved, my gratitude picked me up and took me soaring into an even richer experience of the love.
Wow. What just happened there? I felt like a bird riding on a thermal. Pure thankfulness was so uplifting! Nothing like the plastic top ten lists. Pure thankfulness, I discovered, is the natural complement to pure love. All of my gratitude practices to date were like sleeping in a comfortable bed, just with sand in the sheets; they were missing the element of pure love.
I decided to try this pure love idea in small things just to see what would happen. The view out my window, for instance, frustrates me because all I can see is my neighbor’s neglected house and her ugly rotting privacy fence. But, that’s not all I can see. There is a sliver of sky above her roof. I focused on that sky, letting myself get lost in the deep pure blue, and voila. There was the gratitude, patiently awaiting to take me on a thermal to that timeless Tantric moment where pleasure seems to deepen with each breath. I’m quite familiar with this space; I call it the 4th dimension, where everything seems slow and blissful and quietly, deliciously erotic. The moment I noticed the fence, the magic disappeared.
Hmm. So if I can ignore the fence, can I get back on the thermal? As I write this, I’m gazing into that sliver of sky, and now I’m noticing the elm tree seemingly waving at me. Thank you, I’m whispering to it, and feeling myself easily rise into the timeless space.
Trees and sky are easy–what about something more challenging? Can I ride the thermal there? What about the election? As I write this there is no winner of the American Presidential election–the candidates are neck and neck, and my country is bitterly divided. What if I ignore the division for a moment (which is about as easy as ignoring a 2-year-old who needs a nap), and, breathing myself into a Tantric trance, laser focus on how 2020 is the biggest voter turnout since 1900 (Washington Post)? Riding on Tantric energy, my authentic self deeply resonates with that marvelous fact, that this is democracy at its finest in the midst of all the shit, and I feel delicious gratitude for that.
This brings me back to the author of 2 Samuel. He was onto something giving thanks “among the heathen.” I’ve always interpreted that as “among all the people who don’t believe as I do” but I think what he could have meant was “in the midst of all the shit.” It’s powerful letting the ugly things just be and bringing the lovely things forward as my only focus. It’s not easy! But Tantric meditation makes it easier. A lot easier.
Pure gratitude comes from pure love. It can’t be forced. It doesn’t come from things I should be grateful for or wish I could be grateful for. It isn’t an obligation. There is no judgment from the Divine for the lack of it. I have discovered pure gratitude is an adventure in flying, and damn, it’s interesting flexing my wings.
Dakini Leah is a Certified Tantra Educator, Certified Meditation Teacher, and psychology professional. Since 2013 she’s helped over a 1,000 couples and individuals use the power of sacred sexuality for healing, intimacy and personal development. Book your complimentary discovery session by calling 970-242-5094 or emailing her at email@example.com