Often I am not fully aware of how or what I feel. Feelings arise that are subtle, related to a whole panoply of both external circumstances and multiple internal interactions. Having been trained as a social worker and having personally experienced the psychotherapeutic process, I consider myself fairly attuned to my own feelings and the reasons for their presence at any given time in my life.
Yet, it is not uncommon to feel a gnawing but diffused sense of unease, even emotional discomfort and not have the ability to discern the fullness of their impact or the cause of their emergence in the mind.
Over the past number of years, as I have explored the centrality of gratefulness as a spiritual path in my life, I have discovered that the sense of gratefulness can serve as a most helpful barometer of my mood and general emotional state of mind .If the awareness of being grateful is absent from my consciousness, it is clear to me that I am unhappy about one thing or another and an imperceptible anger or resentment, fear or worry, hurt or grudge, has clouded my inner sense of what I should feel at a given moment. I ask myself the simple question: Are you able to feel grateful for your life? If I answer in the negative or with much qualification, it is apparent to me that something has gone awry in the unfolding of my emotional life that requires attention and personal spiritual intervention.
The feeling of gratefulness as a positive and enriching perception is like a light that can illuminate the darkness of one’s soul. I direct my prayer and meditation for its retrieval and restoration in my mind and heart. My prayers, being Jewish prayers, are saturated with praise emanating from a sense of gratefulness. I pray for the return of witnessing the wonder of my mere existence; in that way I become ‘worthy of prayer.’ I meditate on the ‘mantra’ of –“modeh Ani lefanecha”- I am thankful in Your Presence-the first three words of the first declaration of prayer uttered upon arising in the morning.
And if I am blessed with a renewed sense of gratefulness, I thank God for this gift.